Ruby Valentine and the Sweet Surprise

illus. by Lynn Avril. 32p. Carolrhoda. Nov. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780761388739.
PreS-Gr 2—Heartland residents Ruby and her pet Lovebird are back with another Valentine's Day tale. This time, Lovebird is dismayed upon the arrival of a new addition to the family. A kitten named Sweetie Pie appears to be the "new apple of Ruby's eye," and there's nothing like jealousy to make household tensions escalate. Driven to reclaim her former status as number one pet, Lovebird plans all kinds of special treats for Ruby, but a competitive and not-so-sweet Sweetie Pie tries to outdo each gesture. A brawl ensues, and it takes Ruby's gentle reassurance set things right and convince everyone that she has plenty of love to go around. Avril's pink and red cartoon illustrations capture the spirit of the occasion and are very entertaining. Friedman delivers an important message, though the rhyme scheme is forced and awkward at times. Similar in theme to Sam Lloyd's Mr. Pusskins and Little Whiskers (S. & S., 2008), this title will be a useful addition where holiday books are in demand or to address the needs of any child trying to adapt to a new sibling.—Gloria Koster, West School, New Canaan, CT
Ruby Valentine returns, and her pet bird isn't pleased when Ruby brings home a new kitten. The pets' competition to out–Valentine's Day each other to impress Ruby is amusing and deserves better than the too-pat resolution ("There's room in my heart for two"). The verses are all rhyme and no rhythm; more attention seems to have been paid to the heart-festooned illustrations.

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