Let’s Read Three: Vintage Valentine’s Day Books!

Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s been a long quiet stretch here since Christmas Day. While I’m not one to collect many Valentine’s themed books, I couldn’t help but grab a few pictures of three of my favorite vintage Valentine books. These books are harder to find but you know I love a good trio, and these three are all quite different in their approach to this holiday. (I’ve been pondering a different format for posts on occasion, so bear with my as I try this square, quicker format today.) Let’s read three (vintage) books about Valentine’s Day!

1. The first book is The Best Valentine in the World by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, illustrated by Lilian Obligado, 1982.

I’ve shared this one in a past Valentine list, and it remains a favorite. I love the use of limited color without the stereotypical reds or pinks! While I’m all about decking out in red and pink for the holiday, it is so fun to see a different idea for the holiday.

This book is about Ferdinand, a clever and slightly arrogant fox (but let’s be honest and say almost every child is also overly confident in their gift-making skills). He happily and determinedly sets out to make his friend Florette the very best Valentine there ever was. While he works, he is nervous that she will forget to give him a Valentine or that she will make a less exciting one. Ha! In true childlike fashion, she does forget and he is furious. Thankfully, they have grace for each other and they make up, only to realize that she forgot to give him the Valentine, not make one. I swoon for her gigantic, green Valentine that she lovingly made Ferdinand. Still the best line in my opinion,

“It’s the best valentine in the world,” said Ferdinand, “and I feel stupid.”

2. The Great Valentine’s Day Balloon Race by Adrienne Adams, 1980.

Next up is another book from that famed Valentine list a few years back. Adams is a coveted and collectible illustrator for me and this book is beloved. Using a familiar (and also beloved) Adams’ character from the Abbott rabbit family, this book is about responsibility, competition, crafting, and of course, Valentine’s Day.

The Abbott family are the famous Easter egg creators for the upcoming Easter holiday. the son, Orson, unfortunately is getting distracted from his egg decorating duties in hopes of creating and winning the big Valentine’s Day hot air balloon race. Thanks to some quick thinking and his dear friend, Bonnie, the race is a beautiful event and Easter will be too.

3. Happy Valentine by Dorothy Kunhardt, pictures by Garth Williams, 1949.

The newest addition to my vintage Valentine’s book collection and also my tiny book obsession is a Tiny Golden Book. I recently tracked down the whole set of these original 36 Tiny Golden Books and I adore them. So do my girls. Who wouldn’t love picture books that fits into the palm of your own hand or just about any pocket or bag you own?!

The author, Dorothy Kunhardt is probably best known for her still quite popular book Pat the Bunny. She wrote 24 of the 36 original Tiny Golden Books. While her writing is fairly typical narrative style from the 1940s, I love the simplicity. Happy Valentine is number 15 and from the Tiny Animal Stories set. It is about a little puppy named William who has made and stuffed his pockets with Valentines. While out on errands with his rather dapper mother, he secretly gives Valentines to all his favorite people around his town. The policeman, the street cleaning man, the post man… no one is forgotten. And he happily returns home to find a mailbox full of Valentines for him! A truly happy (and sweet) Valentine indeed. My youngest adored this book and completely took it to heart today, making a pile of paper hearts and carrying them around to give to everyone. Makes my heart so full.

I should also note that the 24 Tiny Golden Books were also illustrated by the amazing Garth Williams. He would have been quite well-known at this point in his career and I love that he still made these tiny, simple books with Kunhardt. They are a sweet treat.

I hope you are having a lovely Valentine’s Day as well. It also happens to be Ash Wednesday too! 4o days until Easter! I leave this post with my very favorite illustration from The Great Valentine’s Day Balloon Race – the hardcover beneath the dust jacket! Happy Valentine’s Day!

2 thoughts on “Let’s Read Three: Vintage Valentine’s Day Books!

  1. Thanks! I’m so excited to read these. They look so fun. My current favorite Valentine’s Day books aren’t vintage, but I’ll tell you anyway. I love The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond and Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli


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