All you need is love — but it’s also nice to have a good book to share with your loved one! Snuggle up with your little Valentine(s) and these lovable picture books recommended by The Horn Book Magazine.
In Sunday Love, written and illustrated by Alison Paul, sound effects and red, black, and white illustrations chronicle Bruno the Burglar’s Valentine’s Day escape from the Big House. Much of the appeal lies in the cinematic, Charlie Chaplinesque action, complete with slapstick escapades, buffoonish gendarmes, and a reunion with a true love — a sundae love, that is. 5–8 years. (Houghton, 2010)
Other forest animals spurn the friendly overtures of porcupine Mr. Prickles, protagonist of Kara LaReau’s Mr. Prickles: A Quill-Fated Love Story. Mr. Prickles knows he’s “cute…[and] cuddly…on the inside,” but grows bitter in rejection — and then Miss Pointypants, a female porcupine, moves in next door. Pun-filled text shines a sympathetic light on lonely Mr. Prickles, and Scott Magoon’s playful (and cute and cuddly) illustrations bring out the best in the spiky hero. 4–8 years. (Porter/Roaring Brook, 2011)
Nancy Tafuri’s All Kinds of Kisses opens with a panoramic, early-morning view of a farm, where Rooster stands ready to rouse the creatures. In bucolic illustrations, the animals and their young wake and go about their daily routines. Accompanying text describes the type of kisses each baby animal loves — “Little Calf loves Mooo kisses…Little Kid loves Maaa kisses.” Finally, inside the farmhouse, a (human) mother gives her little one a kiss goodnight. 3–6 years. (Little, Brown, 2012)
Unlike that self-satisfied Guess How Much I Love You bunny, the narrator of Emily Jenkins’s Love You When You Whine is a parent whose claim of unconditional love has some grit. Rendered in Sergio Ruzzier’s comical, understated watercolors, a resigned mother cat lists numerous scenarios in which her impish daughter is less than well-behaved but, of course, still loved. 5–8 years. (Farrar/Foster, 2006)