Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sweets for your sweetie (with a bonus multiple choice quiz!)

Well, we've got just under a week to go until (choose one)
a) the most romantic day of the year,
b) a day for single people to live it up with their single friends,
c) a holiday for card and chocolate companies to go into hyperdrive, or
d) a day to celebrate your love of books with our Kids ♥ Authors event!

I generally feel that the sweet-but-misguided men who come in February 13th at 6:45 desperate to buy the perfect pink teddy bear for their loved ones are beyond our help -- seriously, guys, head over to Cardullo's for a bottle of red wine and some nice chocolates, then to Brattle Florist for some long-stemmed roses, and swing into Pyara for a massage gift certificate. (Best Valentine's gift ever, I promise.)

However, if your Valentine is your son or daughter, or you're looking for an amazing book/an adorable stuffed animal to supplement your bottle of wine/box of chocolates, you've come to the right place. We have so many great books, toys, decorations, and jewelry for Valentine's that you should just come in and be wowed by our displays (really, it's hard to articulate the awesomeness of the whistling Love Birds plush on the blog), but here's an assortment of our Valentine's Day best.

Lilly's Chocolate Heart, a board book confection by Kevin Henkes, would make an excellent companion book to a bag of those ubiquitous Valentine's Day candies. Henkes's spunky heroine Lilly goes through a Goldilocks-like quest for the right place to stash her last chocolate heart, but everywhere is too hot, too dusty, or somehow just wrong. Luckily, geniusy Lilly thinks of the perfect place at last: her mouth. This sweet little story is a great gift for any chocolate lover (or Lilly fan) in your life.

Also from the baby room comes Sandra Boynton's Snuggle Puppy; as Michelle said in her snow post, a round-up's just not a round-up without a little Boynton. Her unmistakable illustrations, accompanied by a parent-child love song in a rhythm that just begs for repeat sing-alongs, make Snuggle Puppy a perfect valentine for a snuggable infant or toddler. And what's not to love about a book that ends with a "BIG SMOOCH!"?

Boynton fans who have graduated from the baby room (for example, my parents, who love her on the scale of my Gaiman love) might appreciate the more philosophical Consider Love: Its Moods and Many Ways. Boynton's inimitable cats, dogs, pigs, elephants, hippos, rhinos, turtles, and even dinos cavort through Consider Love in pairs, illustrating rhyming couplets on the many forms (good and not-so-great) love can take. Just when the myriad "moods and ways" of love begin to feel overwhelming, the narrator singles out a love "devoted, steady, and true... my love for incredible you." As you can tell, our love for Sandra Boynton is fairly devoted, steady, and true as well.

Author Sandol Stoddard Warburg and illustrator Jacqueline Chwast's I Like You is short but sweet (and occasionally strange). Simple, straight-from-the-heart declarations like "I like you because / I don't know why / but everything that happens / is nicer with you / I can't remember when I didn't like you," accompanied by Chwast's lively line drawings, make this the book that "Romeo would have given Juliet, Charlie Brown would have given Snoopy," and you can give to somebody you like very much.

Nine-year-old author Alec Greven's New York Times best-seller How to Talk to Girls offers advice to would-be schoolyard Casanovas that could -- perhaps should -- as seriously be taken by the aforementioned pink-plush-buyers. Greven addresses male insecurities about romancing the opposite sex with truly ageless words of wisdom like "Comb your hair and don't wear sweats" and " When you hang out, try not to say anything inappropriate."

Revisit Rob Scotton's quirky cat character in Love, Splat. When Valentine's Day comes around, Splat makes valentines for his whole class -- but he makes an extra-special one for Kitten. There's only one problem: whenever Kitten sees Splat, she pokes him in the belly, ties a knot in his tail, and calls him smelly. Actually... make that two problems: Spike likes Kitten too, and his valentine is much bigger than Splat's. What's a Splat with a crush to do? This picture book about puppy kitty love will have you and your Valentine feeling warm and fuzzy.

Down in the chapter book room, you can find Falling Hard: 100 Love Poems by Teenagers, which offers young adults' own perspectives on the subject of romantic love. By turns funny, tragic, angry, and ecstatic, these hundred poems explore the relationships of real teens -- straight, gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered, all around the world -- with a freshness and vulnerability that will break your heart.

Love is Hell is a short story collection for those of us who selected option "c) a holiday for card and chocolate companies to go into hyperdrive," or who may have (gasp!) even more cynical feelings regarding Valentine's. Five short stories by the likes of Scott Westerfeld and Gabrielle Zevin put a supernatural spin on love; objects of affection range from ghosts to selkies, while relationships range from magical hand-fasting gone wrong to (fan)fictional romance come off the page.

Also showcased in our downstairs display is the anniversary edition of Nancy Garden's Annie on My Mind. It's lovely, with a gorgeous new photographic cover in rose tones and an interview with the author, and the novel itself is a groundbreaking work of LGBTQ young adult fiction. The story is breathtakingly beautiful as Liza and Annie's friendship deepens into romantic love, and heartwrenching when the discovery of their love by the outside world creates terrible consequences for the girls and those they care about.

Peaceable Kingdom Press makes many of the games, puzzles, stationery, posters, and stickers featuring kids' lit characters you'll see in CG. They also apparently make wicked awesome valentine kits, because the other day we received several different types of their SUPER Valentine Fun Packs (no joke; that's the official product name) in addition to the Valentine Fun Packs we've carried in past years. We currently have Valentine Fun Packs -- containing 20 valentines, a teacher's valentine, 21 envelopes, and 30 stickers -- featuring Thomas, Hello Kitty, and Dr. Seuss characters. If your valentines must go beyond mere fun, pick up some SUPER Valentine Fun Packs in one or more of these varieties: Cootie Catcher Fortune Tellers, Temporary Tattoos, and Colorful Henna Temporary Tattoos.

If you're dressing up for a Valentine's Day gala, or if you haven't yet found a Valentine and you'd like to, make sure to pick up that quintessential Cupid accessory: a bow with a heart-tipped arrow. Dashing and daring more your style than cutesy and cherubic? We also have heart-shaped Love Pirate Eye Patches so you can make like the Dread Pirate Roberts and sweep your sweetie off his or her feet. (Psst... Get some love pirate pointers from my hands-down favorite adventure-romance, The Princess Bride, located in the chroom.)

Finally, breakfast in bed for your Valentine -- whether kidlet or grown-up -- gets the finishing touch with the I ♥ YOU Toast Stamper. Serve up some cinnamon toast stamped with this heartfelt message, add some raspberry jam on the side, and snuggle in for a cozy morning meal before heading out to meet our authors and illustrators. Grace Lin, Laya Steinberg, Nancy Viau, and Mary Brigid Barrett will be here signing their books, answering questions, and leading activities from 10-12 on Valentine's Day, so we'll see you then!

I'd like to take a second to offer a fifth option for defining Valentine's Day,
e) V-Day: a global movement to stop violence against women and girls.
Please consider donating some of your resources, time, or talents to this amazing organization, which is dedicated to making the world a safer and happier place. What better way to show the world you love your Valentine, your mom, daughter, aunt, niece, grandmother, sister, friend, mentor, or self than to help protect her from violence?

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