Why not give the children in your life gifts for Valentine’s Day that tickle their fancy instead of rot their teeth? Much as I adore candy, I’ve got book suggestions for kids that could leave them with a lingering sense that they are OK and loved as they are.

“I love you, Stinky Face” presents all kinds of scenarios to test a patient mom’s devotion. The board book by Lisa McCourt begins with a youngster asking his mother a few pointed questions.

“But Mama, what if I were an alligator with big, sharp teeth?” wonders the toddler.

“I’d buy you a bigger toothbrush!” says his clever mom, “and if your throat hurt, I’d look inside your huge mouth, I’d tell you, ‘I love you, my dangerous alligator.’”

The child drags his mother through whether she could love him as a swamp creature or even a green alien from Mars that eats bugs. Of course, the mom has creative ways of reassuring and dealing with all possible monsters. My daughter and I couldn’t get enough of this silly, funny book when she was a toddler and I believe a tiny bit of the message sticks with her even now that she has passed through the green alien stage of teen years.

“You belong here” by poet M.H. Clark and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault uses wonderful rhymes and art to paint a reassuring picture of how creatures have their place in the world.

“The crickets belong in the old stone wall and the bees belong in the clover, just as winter belongs in its place after fall before the new year starts over.” The reader finishes by assuring the child, “And no matter what places you travel to, what wonders you choose to see, I will always belong right here with you, and you’ll always belong with me.” Sigh. What’s more Valentine-like than that?

A sure bet for kids is “Love is all around Wyoming” with its illustrations of Wyoming scenes. An ornery child might point out, as I do, that a polar bear really isn’t very Wyoming, but oh, well, let’s not be picky.

For men searching for something different, there’s a perfect choice in a book. It’s “Victoria & Albert – A Royal Love Affair,” described as the official companion to the PBS Masterpiece Series that has a few women I know swooning. There’s fascinating history in the book, from chapters on Victorian drug use, personal hygiene, beards and the British Empire.

The historic and modern photos are spectacular, but best of all are the various quotes from letters by Victoria and Albert. They range from very steamy messages to each other to Victoria’s surprisingly snarky journal entries about various political figures of the day. The Queen’s words span the variety of the marriage. The day after her wedding night, she wrote, “His beauty, his sweetness and gentleness – really how can I ever be thankful enough to have such a Husband!” And then, she can also come up this gem, written tartly to her beloved husband, “It may be your regiment, Albert, but it is my army.” It’s definitely a relationship to enjoy on Valentine’s Day.

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