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  • Louise Ellis-Barrett

Love is in the air ...


Once more it is a Valentine’s Day and once more we are urged to share our love with those who mean the most to us.

I admit I am cynical about Valentine’s Day – I always say that I share my love all year, not just on one day – yet … I do understand why it matters to make others feel especially loved and so if there are children in your life this could be a day on which you could share that very special love with them and what better way to do so than with a book. Share your love, share your love of reading and help them see why love matters, why reading matters and why they too can grow to love books. To help you along just a few suggestions …

​In Words and Your Heart by Kate Jane Neal (Simon & Schuster) [thank you for the lovely bag of heart shaped chocolates that came with the book] we discover how with love we can make the world a happier place.

There are two unnamed characters in this book and as we follow them from page to page their hearts are always prominent. They are the bright red in the sketched illustrations, they stand out, they call to us and they remind us. They are accompanied by few yet powerful words and a repeated refrain that the heart is the little bit inside which makes you, you. As we learn how important words are we are taught that they can be big or small, nice and sometime not but that every single word we say affects those around us, making us happy, smiley, sing and dance but also sad and worried. This little, important book helps us all understand how powerful words are, how important our hearts are and how important it is to remember their connection and that with just a little thought our words can help make the world a better place and make hearts glow. A truly beautiful, simple, powerful book – please share.​

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​Now that we know just how important the heart it we turn to another picture book, this one by Mij Kelly and Gerry Turley. Love Matters Most (Hodder Children’s Books) is again sparse and simple in its words, its gentle rhyming pattern draws its reader in, the double page spreads, the polar bear in the cold, dark night, in the forest, is looking but we do not know what for. As we explore the stunning simplicity of the background and see the bear, small against her setting of the dancing lights in the night ski, or big and bold a white contrast to the red berries and little yellow bird of the bushes, we wonder and we turn the pages. When will we know? Just before we reach the end all is revealed and we learn why Love Matters Most. A most beautiful book and a most simple premise, that Love Matters Most, no matter how much beauty we see around us.​

​For love with laughter we can turn to Dog in Boots (Oxford Children’s Books) – look for the love hearts on the front cover for a little clue about this book, then when you open it up remember to lift the funny flaps and engage fully with the story. Paula Metcalfe delivers a very funny story with plenty of opportunity for the reader to interact, to giggle and yet to wonder just what will happen next. Engage, enjoy, giggle and learn that when it is love that is on the agenda there may be a few surprises in store!

​Lateral thinking comes in now for dogs may not wear socks but people do and how often have you been left with an odd sock? Simon Sock by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet with illustration by Nick East (Hodder Children’s Books) is the hilarious and touching story, ideal for any Valentine’s Day, of a little sock who has lost his pair. Whilst he sees they sparklies go to parties and the woollies to the park and he knows he is not smelly and has no holes he just can’t seem to find his other half. The other socks try to help but is the apparently perfect match really the one Simon is looking for? A hilarious, touching, bright, laugh-out-loud story for all to enjoy.

​Ever had a pet stick insect? Ever wondered what they do when you are not at home? I Love You Stick Insect by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros (Bloomsbury Children’s Books) reveals all. It is bold, bright and great fun. Follow the stick insect as he suggests a trip to the cinema, the fair, a ride on a roller-coaster and more besides to his new love whilst the butterfly is insistent that he has got it all wrong. A very clever story of mistaken identity and the power of love. Enjoy the messy watercolour illustrations, the silly story and the ups and downs of the planned adventures.

The year was 1830. The place was County Kerry in Ireland. Tears were shed and a ring was thrown, so begins the tale of The Posey Ring as told (and illustrated) by Bob Graham (Bloomsbury Children’s Books). After the ring was thrown it found its way into a meadow near the sea where it has just the small creatures to keep it company. As the seasons passed and then the years the ring was joined by other objects before being caught up in the hoof of a deer, flying away again to a new location, and so the story continues right up to 1967 when the ring finds a new home in a new place and discovers how with its message of love it just needed to be found. A simple, stunning and evocative story with exquisite watercolour illustration demonstrating just how special love is.

Love is special and deserves to be shared, so it is with this thought that we can turn to How Many Kisses by Delphine Chedru, (Thames & Hudson). Not only does this book want to share love – in the form of kisses, one for the cat, two for the dog all the way up to ten – but as you have probably guessed it also wants to share counting skills. Whether learning to count or refreshing newly learnt skills this book will delight its readers, beware they may have the urge to dash about kissing anything in sight, counting the kisses as they go but most importantly they will be sharing their love!

​Last but not least we have been exploring love in its many forms, finding ways of expressing it but how do you say it? Easy you are thinking I know – but can you say it in five different languages? Now there is a challenge but Kenard Pak is here to help with How to Say … I love You In Five Languages (Wide Eyed). Not only will you be introduced to five different characters but you will learn how to say ‘I love you’ (English); ‘You are My Friend’

Now all that remains for me to say is that love is truly all around us as these books prove, but we must also remember that it, and they, are not for just one day of the year but for everyday …

#love #valentine #valentinesday #lovelychildrensbooks #KateJaneNeal #WordsandYourHeart #SimonandSchuster #MijKelly #GerryTurley #HodderChildrensbooks #LoveMattersMost #DoginBoots #OxfordChildrensBooks #PaulaMetcalfe #SimonSock #SueHendra #PaulLinnet #NickEast #StickInsects #ChrisNaylorBallesteros #BloomsburyChildrensBooks #ThePoseyRing #BobGraham #DephineChedru #ThamesHudson #ILoveYou #WideEyed #KenardPak #Lanuguage #Languageoflove

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