Valentine’s Day Get’s a Change of Heart this Perfect Picture Book Friday.

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.

Valentiny Contest Entry – Showing Love

Once again, Susanna Hill is hosting her Valentiny Story Contest! (Loud applause accompanied by stellar cheers, please.)

THE RULES: Write a Valentine story appropriate for children ages 12 and under with a maximum of 214 words in which someone is confused!  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone confused. (It can be the main character but doesn’t have to be.) You can go under the word count but not over! (Title is not included in the word count.)

I admit I struggled to write this story, and my struggle had nothing to do with keeping my word count to 214 words. Instead, I felt confused as to how I should incorporate confusion into my story. After all, what is confusing about Valentine’s Day?  You like him. He likes you. You give him a card. He gives you flowers. People wear red or pink… You get the picture. Nothing much confusing here. My inspiration for this story came when I thought back to when I was so young my mother had to explain this holiday to me.

 

valentinywriting-contest2017

Coming in at 210 words…

SHOWING LOVE

By Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

     Edgar poked his head above his nest. Down below, the animals behaved strangely.

     Squirrel sneaked home, clutching wildflowers in one paw. By the stream, Frog handed

heart-shaped lily pads to his friends. Outside his den, Bear recited a poem to his wife.

     “Mama!” Chirped Edgar. “Is today special?”

     “Every day is special,” Mama said. “But today is Valentine’s Day, a day when you show

your love.”

     Edgar flitted to the forest floor and picked poppies. When Squirrel scurried close, Edgar

asked, “Are these flowers love?”

     “Flowers aren’t love,” Squirrel said, “but yours are lovely.”

     Edgar plucked a lily pad from the pond. When Frog hopped near, Edgar asked, “Is this

heart-shaped lily pad love?”

     “Heart-shaped lily pads aren’t love,” Frog said, “but yours is lovely.”

     When Bear ambled by, Edgar asked, “Is my poem love?” He cleared his throat and

recited,

     “I’m glad I hatched inside this nest.

In all the world, Mom you’re the best.”

     “Poems aren’t love, Bear said, “but yours is lovely.”

     Edgar thought a moment. Then, he flitted and fluttered. “I know how to show Mama my

love!” he said.

     Up, up, up. Edgar flew to his nest. He wrapped his wings around his mother.

     “I love you so much,” Edgar said. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mama.”