Thursday, January 26, 2012

Secret Admirer: A Giant Crush by Gennifer Choldenko

My best friend, Jackson, has been making Valentines all day long.

"Who's the special Valentine for, Jackson?"

"It's not special, Cooper, really," he says.

"How come is it so full of chocolate kisses that you can barely close it?"

Jackson is obviously smitten with the cute and charming Cami, although he is too shy to reveal his feelings to his best friend, much less to the object of his affections.

Cooper watches as his friend leaves a giant yellow flower, chocolate kisses, and a giant, handmade Valentine on Cami's desk anonymously. Cami doesn't seem to get the message, but class pest, Carter Corey, and Cami's girlfriends pick up on the vibes and what poor Jackson has feared comes to pass with predictable results:

"Cami and Jackson sitting in a tree,
K-I-S-S-I-N-G!" all the girls sing.

Carter Corey is all too quick to jump on the teasing train. The very tall and somewhat shy Jackson is mortified when the taunting comes down, especially after he chooses to pass the soccer ball right to Cami at recess.

Cooper gives good advice to his buddy, telling them that if he wants a girl to like him, he at least needs to let her know about it. But the extra-tall Jackson has a real fear: what if Cami thinks he's a giant!

But faint heart never won fair lady, and on Valentine's Day Cami turns out to have a heart as big as Jackson's Valentine and the feminine moxy to handle the whole situation with definite diplomacy:

"I don't have a boyfriend," Cami tells him.

"But if I did have a boyfriend, he'd be totally giant!"

In the early elementary years, the coming of Valentine's Day provides the opportunity for the ever-popular subject of LOVE to rear its head. Newbery Award-winning author Gennifer Chuldenko combines forces with the equally-award-winning illustrator Melissa Sweet in their latest, A Giant Crush, (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2011) a Valentine's Day tale which is both empathetic and humorous.

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