This is NOT a Valentine
By Carter Higgins
Illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins
48 pages – ages 4-8
Published by Chronicle Books on December 26, 2017
Synopsis from Publisher: This book is not a valentine. It doesn’t have lacey edges or sugary hearts. But it is full of lucky rocks, secret hiding spots, and gumball machine treasures. This is a book about waiting in line and wishing for cinnamon buns. About recognizing that if you care so much about someone not thinking you care, maybe you really do. But wait—isn’t that exactly what love is about? Maybe this book is sort of a valentine after all. A testament to handmade, wacky, bashful, honest love—sure to win over the hearts of all readers—this offering from debut picture book author Carter Higgins and children’s book veteran Lucy Ruth Cummins is the perfect gift to celebrate every relationship, from parent to child, sibling to sibling, partner to partner, crush to crush.
What I thought: This is a delightful story showing that a valentine does not have to be all chocolate, frills and glitter. Showing someone you are about them is the small things – like sharing your best hide and seek spot or your peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Cummins sketchy illustrations are a perfect complement to the sweet story of a boy convinced he is NOT giving the girl he likes a valentine.
The message the story emphasizes is a great one – hold the true meaning of Valentine’s Day – showing someone you care for them – does not have to involve expensive gifts or dinner out. Valentine’s Day can happen every day of the year when you just show a person you care! It is also nice to show that the boy notices what the girl likes and shows he cares around that – for example he gives her a note without sparkle and pink and glitter because those aren’t her favorite colors. He also shares what he likes with her, like his lucky rock. This can be a great teaching point for kids to listen to each other and don’t assume someone likes something someone else does. All-in-all This is NOT a Valentine is probably more of a valentine than any box of chocolate can ever be.
Four out of five bookworms!