Valentines Reading – Picture Books with Heart

Whether it’s about love unrequited, lost loves or welcoming new love into your heart, this collection of new children’s book releases are sure to melt your Valentines resolve.

Unrequited Love

I Love You Stick Insect by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Side-splinteringly silly, this jocularly illustrated romance features Stick (a stick insect) and his infatuation with the most beautiful stick insect he has ever laid eyes on. He immediately launches into a reverie of what ifs with his newfound love despite Butterfly’s repeated proclamations that it’s ‘just a stick’. Readers merrily hurtle along with Stick and his runaway imagination until he finally twigs his embarrassing mistake. Eye-catching candy that will tickle the funny bones of 2 – 5 year-olds.

Bloomsbury January 2018

Valensteins by Ethan Long

Valentine’s Day may seem an unlikely celebration for monsters and ghouls yet young Fran has other notions. He sets his heart on creating a pretty, pink paper heart for which he receives cutting ridicule. His vampish friends fear that Fran might be in love, that icky, gross, mushy, kiss-on-the-lips emotion that they frankly all find ‘terrifying’! Fortunately, for Fran, he turns the other bolted cheek and remains true to his real feelings. Despite its monochromatic overtones and comically Goth characters, Valensteins oozes charm and meaning, showing young readers that real love is about what you feel in your real heart. This is a lovely expression of being true to your feelings and creating meaningful relationships.

Bloomsbury January 2018

New Beginnings

Everything You by Elizabeth McPike & Jay Fleck

The wait for new life is suffused with all-consuming expectation and desire. This adorable picture book celebrates the intoxicating love parents feel for their new babies; all the hope, the playfulness, the inexplicable cuteness, all the wonder captured in their babies’ smiles and unique baby ways. McPike’s words sing with profound perception whilst Fleck’s sparse retro animal inspired illustrations are the perfect accompaniment for a story that champions the unfathomable feeling of parental love. Neither picture nor word get in the way of the message of welcoming – you. This is the perfect book to share with your own new arrival. Be warned though, you’ll want to keep sharing it with them well past the nappy stage.

UQP January 2018

Me Too by Erika Geraerts & Charl Laubscher Illustrated by Gatsby

This is a book to share with someone you love, a friend, a sibling, even a parent. Succinct text pairs easily with beguiling ink and water coloured illustrations that smear and swirl merrily across uncluttered pages. It is a story of anticipation – a heart song – calling for companionship. We all want someone who gets us. For young people this desire may represent a friend who likes dressing up, laughing at your jokes, sharing secret dreams or lending a guiding hand when you are feeling lost. This book examines the points of view of two young friends who are pondering the type of person they’d like to find when they grow up. Ironically, they may have already met that special person, the one who makes their day ‘more fun’.  A seemingly uncomplicated ode to friendship and everlasting childhood love that should appeal to primary school-aged readers.

Walker Books January 2018

Visiting You: A Journey of Love by Rebecka Sharpe Shelberg & Andrea Edmonds

From the moment I turned the cover revealing Edmonds’ divine sepia-coloured end pages I was entranced. This story, celebrating the immense power of love, possesses an enigmatic quality that hums throughout the book from beginning to end. A young child and his mother set out each day using various modes of transport to visit a loved one. Mystifying speculation as to who this might be and why they need to visit hovers perceptibly in the air all the way to the end. Mama’s wobbly smile suggests these occasions may be tinged with sadness however, this never distracts from the child’s main realisations, that there are commuters on the trains, buses and ferries he catches that share a love for someone just as powerfully he does.

Shelberg’s thoughtful poetic narrative balances beautifully with Edmonds’ poignant watercolour vignettes and spreads. The gentle balance of colour and emotion reveal memories and the child’s growing understanding that he need not fear strangers who appear gruff and scruffy, different and intimidating. That beneath the obvious differences of a person, there often dwells a story worth sharing and a reason to love. This is a mighty concept to grasp in our modern day world of stranger danger and our first world tendency to look the other way for fear of becoming too involved. The commendable thing about this tale is that it does not encourage reckless, unchecked interaction with strangers – the child is always within his mother’s supervision – but rather it promotes a phenomenal sense of humanity, of not judging a book by its cover and … of caring.

As Ian MacLaren once said, Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind. Always.”

I love the message of looking deeper. Of connecting with ourselves through others. Of cultivating empathy; a mindset we should all aspire. Visiting You encapsulates this mindset exceptionally well. Full marks.

EK Books March 2018

The Moonlight Bird and the Grolken by Anne Morgan and Lois Bury

This is a charming story of self-realisation, friendship and humility. Morgan’s lyrical language glides across each page with infinite grace, a perfect match for Bury’s angelic illustrations. Both tell the story of a mystical golden bird whose captivating presence and song entrance the Grolken. He captures her for his own enjoyment but is enraged to find that imprisonment has curbed her desire to sing. The nearby townspeople storm the Grolken’s cave claiming the bird as their own causing her to plunge deeper and deeper into lassitude. Regretful, the Grolken has a dramatic turn of heart, rescues the bird and sings her back to light until both she and he are free. Love, possession and obsession are close bedmates at times. This tale reminds us to heed desire and do unto others as we’d like done unto ourselves.

IP Kidz January 2016

Erik The Lone Wolf by Sarah Finan

The feel and tone of this book is 100% wonderful. Brimming with surreal textural images and a savvy little storyline, I give Erik the wolf cub full marks for tenacity and daring. Erik loves his family – the wolf pack- but finds their rules overbearing and silly at times. Determined to be his own wolf, he leaves their protection behind and enjoys a life of thrills and spills until one day he lands himself in disaster…at the bottom of an inescapable crevasse. His experience trapped in the ice and subsequent rescue alters his aspirations of being a lone wolf and of family life. In spite of its icy setting, this is a heart-warming story of family love and appreciation, perfect for sharing with the little loved ones in your pack.

Lincoln Children’s Books 2018

Lost Loves

Missing Pinky by Juliet Williams and Luisa Gioffre-Suzuki

Nearly every one of us and indeed every small person understands the enormity of losing something you cannot live without. For many young children, that something is their blankie or a version of it. When Lucy’s beloved Pinky goes AWOL, she is understandably inconsolable. Her grandma made that blankie. It has her special smell and feels just right. Lucy’s family rally to help her, each offering a new version of Pinky – Bluey, Brownie – but none can fill Pinky’s place perfectly. Until one breezy afternoon, Olive flutters into Lucy’s life. This is a gorgeous reassuring story of adjusting to change and finding new love with a delicious warm focus on those special grandparent child connections. Ideal for pre-schoolers and those of us still attached to their blankies.

IP Kidz May 2017

I Love You, Bunny by Alina Surnaite

Bunny accompanies Suzy to bed each night, keeping vigil. With Bunny on watch, Suzy is confident the monsters cannot harm her. Until one night, just before dawn, Bunny goes missing. Suzy is frantic with worry but summons enough courage to mount a search for her beloved bedmate in the hazy predawn light. She witnesses what she thinks is a monster eating Bunny but transpires to be Misty, the cat, up to no good. I Love You, Bunny is a considered soft approach addressing childhood fears and attachments that is superbly illustrated by Surnaite using charcoal drawings and digital enhancement. Worth snuggling up with as a bedtime read.

Lincoln Children’s Books January 2018


Published by

Dimity Powell

Dimity Powell likes to fill every spare moment with words. She writes and reviews stories exclusively for kids and is the Managing Editor for Kids’ Book Review. Her word webs appear in anthologies, school magazines, junior novels, as creative digital content, and picture books - you'll find them all here at Boomerang Books. Dimity is a useless tweeter, sensational pasta maker and semi-professional chook wrangler. She believes picture books are food for the soul and should be consumed at least 10 times a week.

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