Valentine Be Mine
written by Jacqueline Farmer; illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy
2013 (Charlesbridge Publishing)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
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With February's arrival, we have a sweet book about Valentine's Day. Valentine Be Mine is a literary confection that combines history, craft and custom. The first bite is historical as we learn that the name Valentine was a popular name in the late first century and comes from a word that means "admirable". Legend says three different religious figures from this time period named Valentine were martyred on February 14. This prompts the church to declare this day Saint Valentine's Day. For many centuries, it remains a religious holiday. It is English poet Geoffrey Chaucer who turns thoughts to romance with his poem titled The Parlement of Foules. Chaucer connects the mating season of birds with Saint Valentine's Day. Later, a French nobleman imprisoned in the Tower of London is given credit with the first valentine cards. It is in the 16th century that valentines become popular. Another section features Esther Howland who is thought to be the "Mother of the American Valentine".
There are two terrific Valentine's Day crafts mentioned in this book. With easy to understand directions and excellent illustrations of each step, readers will be able to create a mouse valentine with candy and a tissue paper flower.
Other topics mentioned include information about symbols associated with love, customs in ancient cultures, and customs in different countries today. One section has a bullet list (with hearts) that lists different flowers and their meanings. Somehow stink weed didn't make the list. Don't tell my students, but children in England sing Valentine's Day songs and are rewarded with fruit or money. Bring on the bananas!
Valentine Be Mine is a great book to share for this beloved holiday. I appreciate the combination of history, craft, and custom. Students will enjoy learning about the origins of the day and making the crafts. If you are giving gifts to a lover of literature, I would recommend including this book as a unique and interesting gift.