Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Valentine Box by Maud Hart Lovelace & Illustrated by Ingrid Fetz

I have adored Maud Hart Lovelace ever since reading her Betsy books. I know, I know, I should have known her Betsy-Tacy books, but I just didn't. I am not sure how I missed them, but I jumped right in with her Betsy high school books. And I was smitten.

ANYWAY, MHL wrote this book in 1966. I am pretty sure it was the last book she wrote. And it is particularly fascinating to me because the main character is black. The storyline never mentions that fact, which is interesting for that time. Sort of ahead of it's time.   

Another blog I read about this book (I like to read up on books I am putting on my blog!) suggested that it may have been a gimmick by the publisher (this was published a year or two after Ezra Jack Keat's Snowy Day took the Caldecott) more than something MHL intended. However, I think MHL was a proponent of civil rights--her Emily of Deep Valley has Emily trying to help the Syrian refugees that the rest of Deep Valley has ignored. Clearly, MHL was sensitive to the fact that not everyone had the same privileges Betsy and Tacy had and wanted to draw gentle attention toward that. 

Unfortunately, MHL never really spoke out about this, so we can't be sure.  

I love lacy, vintage Valentine's!  

It was Valentine's Day and snowy. Janice hoped her mother would not make her go back to her new school after lunch. Because how embarassing to be the girl that doesn't get any valentines from her classmates! 

(Also, when did it become regular to give all students in class a valentine? I never really thought about it, because that is the way it was when I was a kid and how it is for my kids, but at some point, not everyone would get the same number of valentines. Oh the social angst!! I am a fan of everyone gets one,  but it does limit the meaning of valentines--it wouldn't be something you give to people who were the most kind or your closest friends.)

However, Janice can't quite tell her mother this, so her mother gives her a bag to carry her Valentines in and sends her back after lunch.

On the way back to school, Janice sees Margaret, a girl who she had thought might be a good friend, loose her valentines in the wind. 

Janice helps Margaret catch her Valentines after a few silly mishaps.

In the process, Janice drops her bag of valentines, so another kid in her class (because Margaret is sopping wet) helps her find them. 

So Janice makes two friends and gets several Valentines. 

I love the way this book shows kids that the best way to make friends is to be kind and helpful, while also asking them to think about those who might feel left out. 

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