Friday, January 21, 2011

O, My (reluctant) Valentine

I have to admit, I've kind of always been a Valentine's Day cynic. Don't get me wrong: I love chocolate as much as the next gal, but maybe it's all that pink. And the same messages over and over. If you're like me, or you like someone like me, here are a few picks for all ages that extend beyond the same old greeting card lines about love. These are books that I think say something different, or will at least appeal to the reluctant valentine in your life. Enjoy!

Chester's Way

by Kevin Henkes
upstairs in picture books
ages 4-6, $16.99

A great alternative friendship/love story, Chester and Wilson are two best friends who do everything together. Then a third girl mouse wants to join the mix. Their relationship is tested before it expands to include Lily!

Nate the Gre
at and the Mushy Valentine
by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, illustrations by Marc Simont
downstairs in Early Readers
ages 6-8, $4.50

"I was glad that no one had given me a valentine. I, Nate the Great, do not like mushy words. Or slushy words. I, Nate the Great, do not want to be anyone's valentine." Nate the Great is on the case when his beloved dog Sludge gets a yucky, mushy anonymous valentine. Not only will the reluctant early-reading valentine get to help Nate solve the case, but there are activities and recipes in the back of the book as well. And of course, (SPOILER ALERT) Nate himself gets a yucky, mushy valentine in the end.

Gentle B
by Walt Morey
downstairs in Chapter Books
ages 9-11
, $6.99
Before it was on TV, then a movie, then a TV-movie, Gentle Ben was--and remains--an arresting novel of nature, solitude, and a boy's love for his bear. When everyone else is scared of a massive grizzly on the outskirts of the Alaskan wilderness, only Mark dares befriend him. As their friendship grows, the townspeople become wary and try to harm Ben. But the bond Mark has forged with him could be the only thing that saves him.

Catherine, Called Birdy
by Karen Cushman
downstairs in Chapter Books
ages 12-14
, $6.99

The ultimate anti-Valentine book for the independent thinking girl. You'll root for Catherine to ditch Shaggy Beard, a suitor almost three times her age! The book is in the form of her diary, and her hilarious quips about her life in medieval times are engaging. And God's Thumbs! It's a Newbery honor!

The Big Crunch
by Pete Hautman
downstairs in Chapter Books
$17.99, ages 15-18

"This is not that kind of love story," the flap copy promises on National Book Award winner Pete Hautman's new novel, "this is a love story for people not particularly biased toward romance." A reluctant love story that flares up with undeniably potent chemistry is told in the alternating points of view of main characters Wes and June. A love story that guys and girls romantic and reluctant will be drawn into immediately.

by Kent Haruf
downstairs in Older Readers
published for grown-ups; recommended for ages 13+

Love in all shapes reveals itself in this quiet novel set in small-town Colorado. The crux of the story follows a pregnant 17-year-old with nowhere to go, and the elderly bachelor brothers that take her in. The book tenderly evokes Reverdy's immortal declaration that "there is no love, there are only proofs of love," as revealed in the seemingly simple actions and dialogue in which the characters prove their love subtly and without excessive sentimentality.

this post is dedicated to my Valentine; the peanut butter to my chocolate ;)

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

Maybe I'll dust off Gentle Ben today and try to get someone to read it. That is, if my copy is still all in one piece!