From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2—The delightful title sets the tone for this sweet story of friendship and a boy's first crush. Sam's teacher, a motherly bear named Mrs. Wright, announces to her students that they will make valentines. "Write something special about each classmate," she instructs. Sam, an earnest cub in a red jersey and jeans, has a crush on Tiffany. When he tells Mary Ann that he wants to make a "really good valentine" to impress the popular cat, she is disappointed but agrees to help him. They spend the afternoon creating imaginative valentines at the loyal squirrel's house. Not knowing anything about Tiffany except her favorite color, Sam decorates her card with purple stickers. She drops the card, and when Sam puts it in his pocket, he finds a surprise: a string of hearts made by Mary Ann. On each one she has listed a reason for liking him. Sam realizes that he can think of lots of good things about her, too, and rushes home to make her a special valentine. The cheery artwork illustrating this heartwarming love triangle shows fluffy, well-dressed animals in bright colors. Their expressive faces mirror the emotions explored in the narrative. A lovely Valentine story about the real meaning of friendship.—Linda L. Walkins, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA
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For the class Valentine’s Day party, Sam’s teacher says to write something special about everyone. Sam, a bear, is at a loss of what to say about Nicole, a skunk, and even more befuddled by how to make a valentine for the perfect Tiffany, a cat. His squirrel friend, Mary Ann, offers to help out the clueless bear, and the two spend the afternoon creating cards. When Sam’s valentine for Tiffany goes barely noticed amid her armful of cards, he is dismayed until he remembers all the wonderful things he has to say about Mary Ann, a truly special friend. This familiar popularity-isn’t-everything tale shows the value of a steady, loyal companion who is there when needed. Munsinger’s costumed animal characters have their charm, even if they are a bit stereotyped. The emphasis on the pleasure of making and receiving handmade cards is a welcome message. A historical note about the origins of Valentine’s Day adds to this perfect choice for a February fourteenth storytime. Grades K-3. --Patricia Austin