Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Sweetheart for Valentine


Does anyone really know the real, original, and truthful origin of Valentine’s Day? If you are not certain, here is the very palpable, sweet as your little ones, witty as your first love in junior high, and thoughtful as your significant other: A Sweetheart for Valentine by wonderful Lorna Balian. My not yet four years old friend liked it, shimmering sweet smiles as I read it to him. I doubt, though, he understood it fully as much as I did. I think this is more my cup of tea than his.

One morning, people in the peaceful small village of St. Valentine find a giant baby girl. She doesn't belong to anyone, so the villagers decide to raise her all together (true, it takes a whole village to raise a child!). Unlike anyone, she has one great-grandfather (he has a long, long white beard), three great-grandmothers, six grandfathers, seven grandmothers, eleven mothers and fathers, and many more sisters and brothers. They name her Valentine and find ways to care for her as she grows. Whenever there seems an issue for her well-being, Great -grandfather calls for a special meeting to find a solution collectively, and they always do (they even build a house that grows with her. How? With vines and sunflowers!). Then one early morning, they find a very large young man stuck in the mud. Is he a sweetheart for Valentine?

It’s a lost-in-time fascination to look at Balian’s illustrations, as much as her playful and rhythmical words. Whenever they hold a special meeting, responses from villagers are so distinguished and livelyㅡthe loving nature of mothers, wisdom-full nature of grandmothers, logic-driven, yet caring nature of fathers, supporting and fun nature of grandfathers, and we-can-help nature of sisters and brothers. Every time I read it aloud, it leaves a I-am-happy smile on my face. I can’t help it.
*Another spoiler: Valentine and the big young man were not in “love at first sight” (as it doesn’t often happen in real life), but became so fond of each other as they learned more about each other (as it happens in real life).

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