Hello friends and Happy Valentine’s Day! We’ve got a special book for today to mark the occasion: This Is NOT A Valentine, written by Carter Higgins and illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins.
After his friend gives him a valentine, the hero of our story wants to show his gratitude with a gift of his own. He doesn’t have any valentines of his own though – nothing with pretty curling text or bright pink hearts or sugary treats or sparkling jewels or (ew) cooties. He does have some of his own precious treasures to share though, like his lucky hopscotch rock, his favorite superhero cape, his second-favorite secret hiding spot, or half of his PB&J (the jelly half, because he knows it’s her favorite). These things may not be valentines, but his friend thinks they’re perfect, because they all show how much he cares.
I’ll be honest, I was worried going into this. I’m typically uncomfortable with anything that depicts romance between children, and for a moment I thought that was what I was going to find here. However, this turned out to be a lovely, earnest lesson in how to express love – and in the case of the child characters, of the friendship variety. Instead of the typical boy-meets-girl tale the cover might imply, the reader is treated to a lesson in what makes a good gift for someone you care about; it need not be conventional or traditional or even fancy, and should instead be tailored to the person receiving it. Each of the boy’s gifts are earnest in their intent, and reflect his friend’s personality and interests. The illustrations are charming, with a scribbly quality that matches the childlike narrative. The length is fine, and JJ and I both enjoyed it. A lovely tale of friendship and generosity, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!