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Hearts, Cupids, and Red Roses: The Story of the Valentine Symbols Paperback – January 21, 2001


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 6
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (January 21, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618067914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618067916
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 6.8 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,140,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Why do we celebrate Valentine's Day? And what do cupids and lace have to do with anything? February 14 is a lighthearted occasion with ancient origins. No one is really sure who St. Valentine, patron of lovers, really was. According to one legend, he was a Roman priest who agreed to secretly marry young couples when Emperor Claudius II decreed that no one could be married because he needed men to fight wars instead. February 14, when Valentine supposedly died, was the eve of an important Roman festival--Lupercalia. On this evening, Roman youths drew the names of girls who would be their partners during the festival. In this lively and informative book, readers will read the first known valentine ever written (by Margery Brews in 1477), discover the golden age of English valentines, learn the difference between "rebus" and "puzzle purse" valentines, and more. "Enter Cupid" is a chapter tracing the symbolism and origins of the strange, heart-piercing, winged babies, and explanations of valentine symbols like flowers and hearts follow. Helpful supplemental material--a list of stories and poems for Valentine's Day, a bibliography, and index--will help young researchers as well. Edna Barth has a long and respected history of demystifying occasions in Shamrocks, Harps, and Shillelaghs: The Story of the St. Patrick's Day Symbols, Lilies, Rabbits, and Painted Eggs: The Story of the Easter Symbols, Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols, and more. She has a knack for snappy, straightforward, well-researched explanations of the history and traditions behind holidays, and illustrator Ursula Arndt adds a sprightly touch with delicate pen-and-ink illustrations. (Ages 9 and older)

About the Author

Ursula Arndt has illustrated a number of popular children's books, including the six holiday titles written by Edna Barth for Clarion. She is now retired and lives in Germany.


The late Edna Barth worked as a librarian, a teacher, and an editor of books for young people before becoming the author of many well-known books for children.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Margaret W Haynes on January 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
In only 64 pages the author traces the origins of today's Valentine's Day back to the pre-Christian Roman festival of Lupercalia, and finds the connections to various courting customs and symbols through the ages. Although small, the book is no lightweight -- it's packed with apparently well-researched and detailed information. The monochrome illustrations that accompany the text are appropriately sparing. There are plenty of other books with lots of big, colorful pictures but none with as much information conveyed so clearly and pleasantly in so little space!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By KiminVermont on April 2, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book would be excellent for any reference or school library- the author investigates the background of many of the traditions around Valentine's Day. Simple to read and follow, it would be great for adult or teenager- I am looking forward to reviewing some of the histories and legends around the other holidays in her series!
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By Nona on November 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought as many as I could find in this series. Written in the early to mid 70's at about a sixth grade level. They are still interesting to adults too. It gives simple but not dumbed down explanations of these holidays and covers the usual traditions and some I wasn't familiar with. About 40 pages +/- with illustrations. I think they are a lot of fun to read.
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