One of my favorite Valentine’s Day books was already checked out of the library this year, but I got it after the fact anyway. I decided to read it last week in the name of “O is for Optimism.” Yeah, it’s a stretch, but oh well. Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli is such a cute story about a lonely, grumpy man who keeps to himself until he receives an anonymous valentine with a note: “Somebody loves you.” Just the thought of having a secret admirer turns his life around. He starts to smile and be nice to people and soon he’s friends with everyone in town. I won’t tell you the crazy unexpected twist (I’m being a wee bit sarcastic here), but I love the illustration of what feeling loved can do for a person, and how simply being nice goes a long way.
We also read Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (one of my favorite current authors). O is for Owl, of course. Poor Little Hoot has to stay up late, late, late because that’s what owls do. He wishes he could go to bed early like all his friends, and swears that one day he’ll let his kids go to bed as early as they want. It’s super cute, just like her other anthropomorphic books: Little Pea (who doesn’t want to eat his candy for dinner), Little Oink (the tidy pig who hates “mess-up time”) and Spoon, about a little spoon who’s jealous of Fork and Knife and Chopsticks. I’ve found that books in which kid-parent roles are reversed, or something similar, are about the funniest thing possible to my kids. We all adore Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s books.
We didn’t read Ox-Cart Man (by Donald Hall/Barbara Cooney) last week, but it is one of my all-time favorite picture books. It tells of a man who takes his ox-cart to town, sells his wares, buys supplies and returns home to his family. Then it shows them using their new supplies to make things to sell next year. The pictures are lovely and the simple self-sufficient lifestyle is so beautiful it makes me want to cry. I once read this book to all the ladies at church as part of my lesson. It just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Go read it – you’ll see.