I thought I would have this list up in time for Valentine’s Day. But craft goodies for the kids’ Valentine’s Day sharing,
along with baking distractions,
prevented me from finishing.
First, to get Valentine’s Day themed books out of the way. Last year’s post highlighted a couple of my favorites.
I’m adding the following mini book by Kevin Henkes to that list.
Lilly’s Chocolate Heart by Kevin Henkes
It’s Henkes, it’s Lilly, and she’s got a perfect little chocolate heart she can’t find a good place to put. Need I say more?
And here we go, 20 more books from my shelves that have a whole lot of heart.
Children helping their mama’s is the topic for the first three.
1. A Chair For My Mother (1982) by Vera B. Williams
Mother is on her feet all day working in a diner. When she comes home at night, there’s no soft chair to rest in. The daughter, along with Grandmother and Mother, gradually collect their spare coins into a jar. And when the jar is full, they buy the chair of their dreams.
2. Arandi’s Braids (2001) by Antonio Hernandez Madrigal, Illustrated by Tomi dePaola
Set in an old village in Mexico where a hair buyer has come to purchase hair for wigs. Arandi’s mother needs money for a new fishing net and a new dress for Arandi’s birthday. Told by the barber that her mother’s hair is too short to buy, Arandi, whose hair is the most beautiful in the village, sacrifices her own. Some of my favorite illustrations by dePaola.
3. Brave Irene (1988) by William Steig
Young Irene braves the elements to deliver a dress made by her mother when Mother is too sick to deliver it herself. Much pain, worry and misery, with a very Steig-like happy reunion at the end.
And now for a book where Mama helps her little girl:
4. A New Coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert, Illustrated by Anita Lobel
It’s the end of WWII and Anna’s mother has no money to buy her a new coat. Mother finds a way through trading some of their possessions to those involved in the making of a coat — from the sheep farmer to the tailor. After a whole lot of patience, Anna gets her coat. To show their appreciation, the family shares their Christmas with all who took part.
The previous four were mother and daughter books. Not many endearing father and son books in my collection. Unless, that is, they happen to be bears. I wonder why that is?
5. If I Were Your Father by Margaret Park Bridges, Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
I’m including this one mostly for the last line of the book — it gets me every time.
And here’s a bear father and son that ranks up there with Barbara Firth’s Little Bear and Big Bear as one of my favorite bear families.
6. I Love You Just the Way You Are by Virginia Miller
Just get passed the sappy title — all the Bartholomew and George stories are irresistable.
And now that were’s speaking of animals, here’s an endearing koala mother and daughter:
7. Koala Lou (1988) by Mem Fox, illustrated by Pamela Lofts
Koala Mama has many more children now and young Koala Lou misses hearing “Koala Lou, I DO love you!” So she enters the bush olympics, thinking if she wins her mama will say it again. She gets her wish, even though she comes in second.
8. Monster Mama (1993) by Liz Rosenberg, Illustrated by Stephan Gammell
Even monsters have ways of showing their love. And there are few better at drawing scary monsters than Gammell!
9. Rotten Ralph (1980) by Jack Gantos, illustrated by Nicole Rubel
The supreme example of unconditional love. Sarah’s love for the cat who knows no end to awful is unwavering.
10. Fox In Love (1982) by James Marshall, written by his alter ego Edward Marshall
Fox gets in over his head with too many girls. The one he ends up appreciating (well, maybe) more in the end is his little sister.
11. Joey Runs Away (1985) by Jack Kent
Told to clean his room (his mother’s pouch, that is), Joey would rather look for another home. After a scary ride in a pelican’s beak and a mailman’s bag, he’s happy to be delivered home to an overjoyed mother. Mother has had her own share of troubles with other animals trying out her son’s room while she cries, “It’s not for rent!” Fun, fun book.
12. A Mother For Choco (1992) by Keiko Kasza
Little bird goes looking for a mother a la Are You My Mother? , but is told he doesn’t look like them — they don’t have wings, big cheeks, or stripes like him, etc. Until he meets up with a mother bear who asks him, “If you had a mommy, what would she do?” She shows him she can do all of those things. A fun surprise awaits — Mother Bear’s other children are not what you expect.
And for love misunderstood:
13. Katie Loves the Kittens (2008) by John Himmelman
Katie is so exuberant in her love for the kittens that she scares them! You empathise with her inability to control herself and her utter grief when she fails. Happiness abounds when Katie succeeds. I love the drawings of Katie’s owner holding her in order to scold her. Katie is being prevented from apologetically licking the girl despite an enormous stretch of her tongue.
14. Baby, Come Out (1971) by Fran Munushkin, illustrated by Ronald Himler
A unique book. Here you’ve got a babe still in utero who looks like a little girl and talks. Trust me, this is the sweetest little book imaginable. Baby says she likes it where she is, her mama treats her well, why come out? Not until Father comes home and gives a kiss to everyone, and baby wants to feel one too, does she change her mind.
Most mushy parent and child love books don’t seem to last the test of time, or at least the test of reading them to subsequent children. But here’s one that we didn’t tire of reading with each one:
15. Mama Loves You (2005) by Caroline Stutson, illustrated by John Segal
This is one of the first books my children memorized. Each page features a different animal or insect. “Who’s that nibbling/ In my house?/ Mama loves you,/ Little mouse.”
And for the most endearing love story between a bird and a mountain, search no further than this title:
16. The Mountain That Loved a Bird (1985) by Alice Mc Lerran, illustrated by Eric Carle
Text heavy picture book, but gloriously so. A lonely, barren mountain rejoices when a bird stops on her way to find a place to nest. He begs her to stay, she says she cannot. But she returns once a year to sing to him. Before her short life ends, she instructs a daughter to carry on this tradition. The daughters begin to carry seeds with them and eventually the mountain becomes green and full of life and its stream of tears becomes a stream of happiness. Dare you to read the last line without crying.
Books about love between a grandparent and grandchild often fail by being overly sentimental. But not the following three:
17. Not So Fast Songololo (1985) by Niki Daly
This story takes place in South Africa. Shepherd is asked to help his Grandmother go shopping. They don’t have a lot of money and she notices him eying a pair of bright red tennis shoes in a store window. After she finishes her shopping she goes back to the store, buys him the shoes, and makes him “feel so happy that it hurts him to sit still.” I ramble more about my admiration for this book here.
18. Coco Can’t Wait by Taro Gomi
Both Grandma and Coco feel the need to visit each other at the same moment. What follows is a series of mishaps in just missing or passing by one another on the way to each other’s house. It ends with a meeting in the middle, under a tree, with a basket of apples — a very sweet and satisfying conclusion.
19. A Secret For Grandmother’s Birthday (1975) by Franz Brandenberg , Illustrated by Aliki
When baking cookies, Elizabeth comments that she loves grandmother’s apple cookies. Edward asks, “Are you making potholders for her birthday?” But Elizabeth always replies that it’s a secret. And so it goes as they enjoy many more things at Grandma’s house. The birthday ending is a surprise for the reader as Elizabeth makes every item that her brother guessed she was making and Edward writes a poem of all the things Elizabeth has said she likes about Grandma. This book also has one of the sweetest illustrations of a character sitting on a toilet you’ll ever come across.
And I end with a fantastically funny book filled with nostalgia and romantic love:
20. Buttons (2000) by Brock Cole
A hilarious tale in which three sisters find love during their quest to find buttons for their father’s britches. I did an earlier post on this book here.
So, those are mine, what are your favorite books with love?