It's Valentine's Day by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Marilyn Hafner, 48 pp, RL 1.5

It's Valentine's Day by Jack Prelutsky with illustrations by Marilyn Hafner is the first ever Valentine's Day themed book I have reviewed here. While I definitely believe that there is a book, or twelve, for every occasion and situation, I find that books written specifically for particular holidays tend to fall flat. However, maintaining a presence on Pinterest has inspired me to think about books and genres in new ways and creating a board of "I Love You Books" made me think I really ought to review at least one authentic Valentine's Day book...

It's Valentine's Day wins that honor because it has a lot going for it: it's a book of poetry, rather than a story, it's written by the best silly poet for kids alive today and it's only $3.99! Beginning and independent readers can enjoy it on their own, parents, teachers and story time readers will find Prelutsky's pace and cadence easy to read and the 14 poems alternately funny and poignant. Hafner's illustrations are perfectly sweet and filled with detail and happily lacking in that predominate color of the holiday - pink. Prelutsky begins with  traditional Valentine's Day topics - getting cards, giving cards, making a card for your teacher and the exchange of cards in the classroom, all expressive of the excitement and joy that comes with the day.

Then Prelutsky moves into more Prelutskian territory with the poetic equivalent of a snowball in the face with, "A Valentine for My Best Friend," which goes . . .

You are rotten, you are crummy,
nasty, smelly and a dummy,
you are absolutely awful,
and your breath should be unlawful.

You are ugly, you are simple, 
and your brain is like a pimple,
you should soak your head in brine . . .

The love/hate relationship that kids sometimes have with each other is touched on in a few more poems, but the playful, giving tone tips the scales. My favorite poem in the bunch is called, "My Special Cake," in which a little baker adds a long list of ingredients, all of which taste delicious on their own, to the batter only take something out of the oven that, "has an awful taste, / like gluey gobs of smelly paste." Wondering what could have possibly gone wrong, the baker decides to make another cake!

Another really fun poem, to read out loud especially, is "Jelly Jill Loves Weasel Will" in which the narrator runs through all the kids in the class, each student's name increasing in silliness. The penultimate poem, "My Father's Valentine" is a very sweet poem about a little boy trying to cut out a heart, whittling away at his piece of red construction paper with each failed attempt. But, being Prelutsky, he can't end on a sweet note, he has to go out silly with this short poem, "I Only Got One Valentine,"

I only got one Valentine,
and that was signed, 
Love, Frankenstein.

Source: Review Copy

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