Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Henry in Love: Be My Valentine

Love and romance are in the air as Valentine’s Day draws near.

One of the sweetest, most romantic books I know of is Peter McCarty’s Henry in Love.  This delightful picture book [for all ages] begins with a freshly baked blueberry muffin lovingly packed in a school lunch by a mom cat for her kitten Henry.  It ends with . . . well, I won’t spoil it.

McCarty offers a sincere, spot-on telling of a school-yard crush — how a smitten kitten woos the beautiful bunny of his dreams.

Henry sees Chloe as “the loveliest girl in his class,” but Chloe is no easy catch.  As with any courtship, Henry sets out to impress her, demonstrating “his best forward roll.”  Flirty Chloe doesn’t discourage the chase (”You will never catch me!”).  And even when she bests her pursuer, Henry remains devoted; he doesn’t seem to mind as long as he wins her friendship.

Later — oh, happy surprise! — fate . . . er . . their teacher rearranges the classroom and moves Chloe’s desk next to Henry’s, providing our hero with a golden opportunity at snack time.  But, I won’t spoil it.  Suffice to say, there is power in a blueberry muffin.

McCarty’s simple, understated text and delicate ink and watercolor art give Henry in Love a universal quality that makes it impossible for readers not to relive memories of their own first crush.

Henry in Love is a book to revisit again and again.

Another book I highly recommend for this time of romance is A Couple of Kooks and Other Stories about Love by Cynthia Rylant.  This teen/adult crossover contains eight tender tales of love and, sometimes, loss.  All of the stories have heart, but “Crush” is a perfect companion to Henry.

Enjoy, everyone, and Happy Valentine’s Day.