THE AUTHORS: Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, illustrated by Christine Davenier
Because Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, I wanted to do something special for moms and dads and their children. I’m offering a wonderful Valentine’s Day book that you could purchase for your child. “The VERY Fairy Princess Follows Her Heart” is written by the beloved Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. It’s great for boys and girls alike.
Of course, Julie Andrews is one of the most recognized figures in the world of entertainment, best known for her performances in “The Sound of Music,” “Mary Poppins” and “The Princess Diaries.” (My children and I must have watched each of them all at least a hundred times). Julie has been a celebrated children’s book author for 30 years, and her works include “Mandy,” “The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles” and the “Little Bo” series. Her memoir, “Home,” was number one on the New York Times bestseller list.
Hamilton is a bestselling children’s book author, editor, arts educator, theater professional, and is the author of “Raising Bookworms: Getting Kids Reading for Pleasure and Empowerment.” Together with her mother, she has co-authored many books for young readers, including the “Dumpy Truck” series, “Simeon’s Gift,” “The Great American Mousical,” and the New York Times bestselling “Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs and Lullabies,” a book for families to treasure and share. The authors invite you to visit them online at www.julieandrewscollection.com.
Christine Davenier has illustrated many picture books, including “Miss Lina’s Ballerinas” and “The First Thing My Mama Told Me,” which was a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book. She lives in Paris.
In this book, a very sparkly fairy princess named Gerry, who is actually a first grader, discusses her Valentine’s Day cards. She believes that fairy princesses are at their very best when they are making “homemade” Valentine cards. She comments that she uses “TONS of glitter, sequins and feathers as well as stickers, doilies, buttons, crystals, ribbons and ANYTHING that catches my fancy.” She also says that “it helps to sing while [she is] working.”
I remember as a teacher of first and second graders that Valentine’s Day was truly the highlight of the children’s year, even more so than Christmas. Christmas occurs mostly at home for them with Santa’s arrival, but Valentine’s Day involves getting many things and hearing lovely thoughts from your friends that sometimes include a sticky sucker too.
And Valentine’s Day, unlike Christmas, all takes place at school. We always made valentine mailboxes and this was a big deal. We pulled out all the stops and got out all the fluff that I could come up with as they designed their shoebox that would house all of their valentines. You may even remember getting to do this when you were in school. Aren’t our memories wonderful? And as silly as it all sounds, those activities really have a multitude of educational purposes behind them.
Children can choose to make all of their valentine cards, or to buy the new sparkly ones that sit in neat boxes on the shelves and house candy and other treats. They write the name of the child the valentine is for on the valentine card, and they sign their name. This repetition of learning how to spell he names of everyone in your class is extremely beneficial. Then getting to play mailman is the ultimate achievement.
Each child gave a valentine of their choosing (always a nice one) to each other child in the class. This built the self-esteem of everyone, and everyone had the same number of envelopes to open. I still have valentine cards that children gave me because they touch my heart especially after all these years.
We set up the boxes in alphabetical order (with my assistance sometimes) and it made for an easy delivery system. But in the story Gerry has made all of her homemade valentines, and the twist comes when her mother gives her one of her father’s work folders in which to carry them all, and this turns into a problem. When she is excited and hurrying on Valentine’s Day morning, she and her father accidentally switch work folders and she ends up with her father’s work and he ends up with her valentines.
But Gerry’s teacher saves the day because Gerry the fairy princess acts out what she said in all of her cards for all the children. She likes the way “Patrick’s teeth sparkle, and the way Cody Rose reads out loud, and how Connor rescues bugs.” (He also pulls her hair, but she doesn’t mention that.) The children love it.
But of course Dad also saves the day when he realizes that he has Gerry’s valentines. He brings them to school and she gets to give them to all of the children. Gerry’s teacher even invites Dad to stay for cupcakes and lemonade, and he does.
At the end of the book, Connor – the bug rescuer and resident hair puller — says that the day was a blast, but that the best part was when Gerry “told” the children about their valentines. Gerry then turns very pink, which she thinks might be the perfect color for a very fairy princess on Valentine’s Day!
I cannot over-emphasize how fun this book is and how much I think the kindergarten through third-grade crowd would enjoy it.
If you order on Amazon it can be here quickly and would make a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift for your family.
Valentine’s is a very special day whether you are young or just young at heart. Find someone and make their day with either a homemade valentine, a poem, flowers, chocolate, or even a smile or a hug. February 14 stands for love, so make it happen!
Blessings, and happy Valentine’s Day to you all! I hope that Cupid shoots his arrow at you and hits both you and your favorite beau or belle.
Buice, a Carrollton resident, writes a weekly book review for the Times-Georgian. anitabook.com.