Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Love's Labour Lost! Mirabel's Missing Valentines by Janet Lawler

Mirabel was very shy.
She'd always been that way.
She trembled at the thought of
giving valentines away.

Still, little mouse girl Mirabel hand-colors her modest little missives, cutting out red hearts and carefully printing good wishes on them. Stashing them carefully in her schoolbag, she spends a restless night worrying about approaching her classmates at school. She doesn't want to go, and she's moving rather slow. But at last she's on her way.

But unknown to Mirabel, there is a hole in her bag, and one by one her Valentines slip out and blow away in the brisk breeze.

But even unintended random acts of kindness have consequences. Each card finds someone who needs it. A lonely old woman whose mailbox is empty smiles at the heart-y card. A construction worker finds a red card with a kind sentiment. One finds its way into a baby buggy pushed by a dutiful dad. Even a garbage man, surrounded by the stinky smell, finds a card that wishes him well.

But then Mirabel discovers that her bag is empty:

"I've lost my Valentines!!" she cried aloud.

The card recipients have a moment of truth.

They hurried up to Mirabel.
"Your cards have made us smile.
Thanks for sharing them with us,
if only for a while."

Seeing how her Valentines have unintentionally brought happiness to their finders, Marabel gets it: Valentine's Day is not about her. It's all about giving. All's well that ends well, with Mirabel enjoying exchanging cards at school and returning home with more heart-filled cards than she gave away, in Janet Lawler's Mirabel's Missing Valentines (Sterling Books, 2019).

Adults forget what an angst-filled day at school Valentine's Day can be. Kids worry that they won't get any Valentines, or that they won't get one from a special person. And for the truly shy, even the act of giving Valentines is fraught with anxiety. But bashful Mirabel learns a little lesson about what giving--and receiving--means in a heart-warming rhyming story with an understated theme of what this overblown and sometimes silly holiday still says about the art of giving.

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