I’d like to share about a favorite living book for Valentine’s Day. When I pulled this one off the shelf, LizzieBee said, “Oh, I LOVE that story!” I do, too. Plus, I’m writing this so you can get your own copy in time for Valentine’s Day. ; -)
The book is The Story of Valentine by Wilma Pitchford Hays, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard. Mrs. Hays has written many different holiday books which we enjoy. In this one, she weaves the few known facts about St. Valentine into a charming story in which a young Roman boy, Octavius, befriends Valentine and learns about the one true God.
“Octavian had spoken often to the kindly priest Valentine on the streets. But to go into his garden was another thing. Octavian had heard talk about the Christians. It was said that Emperor Claudius had issued a decree against them because he blamed the Christians for Rome’s troubles.” p. 10
She paints an interesting and accurate picture of Rome and early Christianity, describing the sites, sounds and smells. While visiting the imprisoned Valentine in jail, Octavian makes the following observations:
Above the prison walls, he could see the dome of the temple of the lifeless god Saturn. Beyond that was the temple of Jupiter. Across the square was the temple to Juno. Behind him were temples to Venus and Mars and all the others of the twelve gods he had been taught to worship. One must be careful, because these gods could be jealous and angry. But Valentine spoke of a God of love who cared for all people, even those who were not Romans. It was very puzzling. p. 45
The part where Valentine restores the jailer’s daughter’s sight always makes me choke up. I even enjoy Weisgard’s two-tone, definitely-from-the -50s illustrations! Enjoy!
Is there an age range for this book? I have a 3 and 5 year old. Thanks
I would say this could be a read-aloud to school age children and up.
Laura in Ontario says
Thank you for this lovely recommendation, Nancy. I found this page through your newsletter this morning. I quickly ordered a copy as our library doesn’t carry older books like that (sad I know) – and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will arrive here in Canada by Valentine’s Day.
Wonderful! I hope your sweet family enjoys it as much as we do!
Thanks for this, I try to include books about the real St. Valentine every year in our read alouds but have never seen this one. I"ll have to check our library.
Amy @ Hope Is the Word says
Thanks for posting this and linking up to RAT. I was just thinking about Valentine's Day and trying to find some new read-alouds. We have one picture book about St. Valentine, but this looks like a worthwhile addition to our library.
I ordered the book and today's lecture introduction ( Dr. G) included this famous priest's start of Valentine's Day. I knew it because of this blog.
Just trying to comment.
Nancy, this mom has a plea for help on Plutarch. Go and cheer her, my friend! (copy this link to see her post)
Thank you for reminding me that the library is another option – I should have mentioned that!
Kelly R. says
For your readers in Minneapolis, Hennepin County Library has a few copies of this book, too.