When I was in elementary school, one girl made it her daily task to find something mean to say to me. Her unkind words kept me miserable for years.
I well recall Valentine’s Day when we were expected to give a card to every student in homeroom. EVERY STUDENT. I wrote cards for all of my classmates and saved the card I had to give the mean girl for last. I chose the least sweet card in my box of pink, white, and red Valentines. And although I wrote every student’s name at the top and signed my name at the bottom of their card, I left the mean girl’s card blank. I couldn’t bring myself to write her name, and I couldn’t bear the thought of giving her my signature.
Would she care if she got a card from me? Would she notice if I didn’t give her a Valentine? And if I did give her a Valentine, would she tear it up and throw it away?
While I was suffering in visible agony, my mother asked me what was wrong.
“I don’t want to give a Valentine to the mean girl in my homeroom,” I said.
“She probably doesn’t want to give one to you, either,” Mom said, “but there are times when we have to do things we don’t want to do. Instead of keeping bad feelings between you two, why don’t you do something she’d never expect?”
“Tear up her card before she does?” I guessed.
“I was thinking you could give her a nice Valentine’s Day card,” Mom said, “and ask her to be your friend.”
I did as my mother suggested, and the mean girl laughed. At least she didn’t tear up my card.
She crumpled it.
Years later, when elementary school was long behind me, I came home from college for winter break. I was at the grocery store when I saw the mean girl, slicing meat behind the deli counter. Apparently, she saw me, too, because she wiped her hands down her apron and raced out from behind the counter to catch up to me.
I was wondering what mean thing she had saved up to say to me when she did the unexpected.
“I don’t know if you remember how mean I was to you through school,” she said. “And I don’t even know why I wanted to hurt your feelings. But, I’m sorry.” Then, she impulsively hugged me, returned to the deli counter, and left me standing. Dumbfounded.
And this leads me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review.
Title – Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink
Written and illustrated by- Diane deGroat
Published by- Harper Collins Children’s Books – 1996
Topics – Valentine’s Day, friendship, misunderstandings
Opening – There they were, fifteen blank Valentine cards, waiting to be filled with nice Valentine poems…
Synopsis from Amazon – Gilbert is all set to write fifteen friendly valentine cards to his classmates. But how can he write a nice poem for the boy who tweaked his nose or the girl who made fun of his glasses? Instead, Gilbert writes two not-so-nice valentines…and signs the wrong name on both!
When his classmates read his poems, their feelings are hurt, and Gilbert’s prank quickly turns into pandemonium. But with the help of a friend and an honest apology, there’s always time for a change of heart on Valentine’s Day.
Why do I like this book? Aside from reminding me of my own elementary school, Valentine’s Day dilemma, this story shows that feelings of anger toward someone are often based upon a simple misunderstanding. The colorful, detailed watercolor illustrations add a strong emotional layer to this story of friendship and forgiveness.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Until next Friday.