The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever by Brenda A. Ferber, illustrated by Tedd Arnold
Leon has a crush on a girl, so he makes her a construction paper heart for Valentine’s Day. But when he tries to put the valentine into an envelope, the valentine runs away insisting that Leon can’t tell Zoey Maloney that he loves her! In fact, the valentine thinks love is “mushy and gross and just plain YUCKY!” He says that Valentine’s Day is not about love, but about candy. Soon Leon is chasing after the valentine, trying to get him to stop. They pass a group of boys, a group of girls and a group of teens before finally coming to Zoey Maloney herself, and a valentine that she has made for Leon. Maybe Valentine’s Day is about more than candy after all?
Ferber marries Valentine’s Day and the pacing and style of the Gingerbread Man together very successfully in this book. This is a book about crushes and valentines that is far from being too sappy. It is full of humor, action and lots of silliness, mocking the entire idea of love and then in the end turning around and seeing that life (and Valentine’s Day) is sweeter than candy.
Arnold’s style plays perfectly with this story. His swirling lines add to the motion and action. His characters are always clearly showing emotion and the large-headed child characters have an endearing quality to them.
This is one Valentine’s Day book that will appeal to boys and girls alike, those with crushes and those who are just looking for candy. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books.