There are many, many picture books about Valentine’s Day. And the great thing for me is that the majority of them are food related (Think chocolate treats, heart-shaped cookies, and so on). But when it comes to picking the picture book that best expresses the idea of love, the first title that comes to my mind is No, David! by David Shannon.
No David! is not a Valentine’s Day book as such. Not only is David not a cute and sweet cupid, but each page of the book discloses yet another act of mischief, to the point that you wonder whether Shanon will ever manage to restore his main character’s image.
There is something about David’s unsophisticated style that is comforting to kids. Even though I see my kids smiling at every one of David’s silly actions, you can feel their tension grow as his mother’s patience reaches its limits. Finally she has control over David by manipulating his emotions and confusing him with guilt, and as if that were not enough, she sends him away to the corner like a useless, unwanted thing. Now WE are confused, and not sure what to think or how to feel about the little monster.
And then, I read the last page, and a tiny body by my side reaches for me with open arms and holds me tight for a while. It’s amazing how the book has the exact same effect on both of my kids, even though they are very different boys. They ask me to read the book again and again, and each time we reach the end, their reaction is the same. Never bored with feeling loved, with having confirmed that love is always there, even when it doesn’t look like it. That’s why for Valentine’s Day, I vote for No David!
Now, for the Valentine’s Day celebration at school, it’s another story. There is a tradition of sharing cards and sometimes treats with classmates. My oldest wanted to make cards that say something about himself. He told me he is fascinated by two things: ocean life and food. I ordered heart-shaped cookiecutters for each of his classmates, and he drew instructions on different ways to use them.
Some days, there is a precious mother-son bonding, when our energies, thoughts, and deeds flow in the same direction.
Some other days, kids are kids and parents are parents. Not everyday is Valentine’s Day, but the love is always there, no matter what.