Jacqueline Farmer, author
Jacqueline Farmer is the author of Bananas! and O Christmas Tree. She lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Read more about Jackie.
Megan Halsey and Sean Addy, illustrators
Megan Halsey has illustrated more than two dozen books for children, including Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World and Anne Rockwell’s One Bean (Walker). She lives in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania.
Read more about Megan Halsey.
Sean Addy received his B.A. from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. His graphic design work has appeared in many papers and magazines. Sean is the co-illustrator of Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World. Sean lives in Port Jervis, New York.
Read more about Sean Addy.
Don’t let the pink jacket and fancy script fool you. Farmer uses soundly researched facts far beyond the hearts and flowers normally associated with romantic love to explore the complex history of Valentine’s Day. She begins with the pagan and eventual Christian origins of the holiday, pointing out that no less than three different Roman bishops and priests named Valentine were martyred for their acts of love and devotion. Quotes from famous poets and writers are found in the margins, including many from Chaucer, who was reportedly the first to connect the holiday to romance. Two crafts, interspersed within the body of the book, help realize the urge to use this information for practical use; namely, a construction-paper valentine folded up like a mouse and a tissue-paper flower. Collage art that mimics old-fashioned Valentine’s illustrations is irresistible and references traditional symbols of Cupid, doves, and chocolate. The high-interest nature of many of the facts presented here may inspire students to explore the traditions and folklore associated with other common holidays. Grades 2-5. –Erin Anderson
Farmer (O Christmas Tree, 2010) offers a compelling survey of the history, legends, traditions and symbols of Valentine’s Day for the primary school set.
This nonfiction title is best read cover to cover instead of flipped through to locate specific information, since there is no table of contents or index to aid in locating specific facts. Readers first learn that the holiday’s origins can be traced to ancient Rome, but they will be intrigued to learn how religious figures, a poet, an imprisoned nobleman and an entrepreneurial woman in Massachusetts called the “Mother of the American Valentine” have all helped shape this special day in February. The information is presented succinctly, on topical pages consisting of a few paragraphs of text, and illustrators Halsey and Addy add playful touches with their mixed-media collage utilizing photographs, vintage clip art, hand-drawn images and acrylic paints. After the history has been covered, readers learn more about the significance of the holiday symbols and traditions involving Cupid, doves, hearts, chocolates and flowers. A couple of quick craft projects, a page of Valentine’s Day jokes and a smattering of quotes about love interspersed throughout the book all add appeal for young students.
A solid nonfiction offering; libraries should buy multiples. (Nonfiction. 6-9)
Valentine’s Day is about more than just creating paper hearts and eating too much candy—at least, it used to be. Farmer presents a historical overview of the holiday, including the origins of its name (from three saints, all named Valentine and all martyred on February 14) and practice (including ties to the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia), the evolution of the holiday’s traditions, and its symbolism. Halsey and Addy’s mixed-media collages are suggestive of handmade valentines, with a blend of classic imagery (Cupid, flowers, doves) and vintage and modern photographs of couples and families, all assembled on painted canvas backdrops. Romantic quotations from the likes of Picasso, Plato, and Tennyson appear on banners and hearts; craft ideas, jokes, and mentions of global celebrations of Valentine’s Day lend additional substance to this wide-ranging look at the holiday.
School Library Journal
This engaging presentation is chock-full of fascinating information. Readers will learn the origin of the holiday's name and why it is celebrated on February 14; traditions dating back to ancient Rome; how a Massachusetts woman created the Valentine card industry; and why cupids, flowers, and chocolates are popular symbols around the world. Parts of the book are presented in a scrapbook format, and factual matter is interspersed with mixed-media collage, including vintage photographs and clip art, romantic quotes written on hearts, and hand-drawn images. A couple of craft projects and Valentine jokes add to the fun. This book could be useful for classroom research or just read for enjoyment. A lovely addition to holiday bookshelves. –Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT
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Page count: 32
8 1/2 x 11