Mirabel’s Missing Valentines (Janet Lawler)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Mirabel’s Missing Valentines, written by Janet Lawler and illustrated by Olivia Chin Mueller, a sweet Valentine story about courage and community.

Mirabel is a painfully shy young mouse, incredibly nervous at the thought of making and giving valentines to her classmates. Still, she makes each one carefully and lovingly, then packs them in her bag and anxiously awaits the next day. As she makes her way to school, she doesn’t notice that a small hole in her bag is allowing the valentines to drop out one by one! They are picked up by townspeople, giving each one who encounters the lovely cards a boost of happiness. Just before reaching school, Mirabel realizes what happens and cries out; the townspeople hear her, and return the cards to the rightful owner, thanking Mirabel for brightening their day. Buoyed by the praise and kindness, Mirabel finds the courage to enjoy her class’s Valentine’s Day party – and even receives a special surprise when she returns home.

Adorable and sweet. Mirabel’s shyness will undoubtedly be familiar to some bookworms, and the story offers the lovely message that even shy people can touch others through their talent – in Mirabel’s case, her beautiful handmade valentines. There’s also a stellar lesson in community: the accidental recipients of the valentines include a lonely elderly woman, a jogger having a rough day, a dad who is delighted to hear his baby speak in reaction to the card, etc. After the valentines have brought them together, they are shown to be interacting with each other, showing how a simple gesture of friendship can bring strangers together. The illustrations are absolutely adorable, the town and its citizens all a wealth of personality and charm. The length was great, and JJ loved it – Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this books was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

This Is NOT A Valentine (Carter Higgins)

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!