Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: This is NOT a Valentine

Publish January 31, 2018

Readers will be smitten by This is NOT a Valentine by Carter Higgins. After receiving a heart-sealed card from a friend, a little boy affectionately reciprocates, but without superfluous frills. Instead of proffering a bunch of roses “that smell like grannies fresh out of the garden,” he gives his pal a handful of dandelions with some of the wishes blown off. Eschewing mass-produced, generic gifts, he thoughtfully selects unique treasures just for her, like a bubble-gum machine ring that matches her best shoelaces, a lucky rock, and a whispered secret about where the second best hiding spot is located on the playground. The quirky presents are accompanied by honest, unsentimental banter: “I found this at the bottom of my lunchbox. You can have the jelly side, cause I like peanut butter best.”   

Lucy Ruth Cummins’ exuberantly unaffected cartoon illustrations capture a diverse classroom of kids going about their daily routine, from hanging coats in cubbies, to lining up at the water fountain. In art class, the little boy celebrates his friend in a portrait created out of construction paper, foil star stickers and green marker. The blush on the little girl’s cheeks shows she is tickled pink by the meaningful, attentive gestures. This is NOT a Valentine is full of sweetness, but not the cavity-inducing kind. Spread the love and share this endearing picture book all throughout the year.  

This is NOT a Valentine

Carter Higgins
Illustration EN: Lucy Ruth Cummins
Chronicle books
ISBN 13: 978-1-4521-5374-2

Linda Ludke
Linda Ludke

Linda Ludke is a librarian at London Public Library.  Her reviews have appeared in Quill and QuireSchool Library Journal and CM:  Canadian Review of Materials.  When she’s not reading and writing she also loves searching for vintage treasures.

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