Thursday, February 7, 2013

Book Review / Author Interview: The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever by Brenda A Ferber

By: Brenda Ferber
Illustrated by: Tedd Arnold
Published by: Dial
Released on: 12/6/12
Ages: 6 and up

Source: book from publisher to review
4 Stars: We Enjoyed It!
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 Even boys will fall in love with this valentine!

Leon has a crush. A let-her-cut-in-line-at-the-water-fountain kind of crush. And he's got the perfect valentine. But this valentine has no intention of getting caught up in any romantic conspiracy. "Love is yucky, kid! Valentine's Day is all about CANDY!" the card yells at Leon, before leaping out the window and running away, leaving Leon to chase it across town, collecting interested kids along the way.

Here is a hilarious take on the holiday that boys love to hate, the most complex holiday of them all. Saying "I love you" has never been so yucky or so sweet.
- quoted from GoodReads

 A fun, laugh out loud, age appropriate Valentine book that both kids and adults can enjoy reading together. What happens when Leon's homemade Valentine comes to life and discovers he's going to be given away to Leon's crush? He runs away, of course. Leon's Valentine doesn't believe in love/crushes. He says Valentine is all about the candy hearts and love is yucky, and stinky and turns your brain to goo. What in ensues is a chase around town to catch the run away Valentine, during which Leon encounters various groups of kids who range in his age and up, that all have different takes on love, and try to help him catch his card. 

I really liked that Brenda kept the love talk at an age appropriate level, where crushes aren't about holding hands or kissing. Sure, my young aged grade school kids don't understand or really care about crushes, but they definitely got the fun with this book. My son picked up on the girls who like will pick up your ball, or let you have cuts in line, after all, that's what crushes at this do, but like the book says, no kissing or holding hands. That of course invokes the "YUK" and "that's so gross" reaction, which is the same reaction Leon's Valentine has. 

My daughter on the other hand is at the age where the crush talk goes above her head, but  she caught on to how funny Leon's Valentine was when he ran all over town trying to get away from Leon. As fate would have it, Leon's Valentine runs right into Leon's crush, who too has a Valentine for Leon. Let's just say Leon's homemade Valentine finally gets what being a Valentine is all about. 

What makes this book even more engaging is it's a fun spin on the classic Gingerbread Man story. It's funny, it's engaging, and I liked that parts of it rhyme. I think this is a Valentine book that will be a big hit in classrooms. I'm not sure it's one preschool aged kids would get, Kindergartners maybe. I think it's one 1st and 2nd graders would definitely get/enjoy.    

Today I'm thrilled to have author Brenda Ferber on the blog! She's stopped by to talk about her newest release. 

Hi Brenda! Thank you for stopping by Mundie Kids today. I don’t know what it is about Valentine’s Day, but I love reading Valentine Books with my kids, especially my little girl who adores them. What inspired you to write Leon’s story?

Hi Katie, it’s great to be here! The main thing that inspired me to write this story was noticing the opposing views my two boys had about Valentine’s Day. On the one hand was my son Sammy, who thought this was HIS holiday. He was a sweet little boy who doled out hugs and kisses whenever possible. He was very romantic even at a young age, writing love poems and getting dreamy-eyed over girls. Naturally, he looked forward to Valentine’s Day all year. Then there was my son Jacob, who steered clear of anything even slightly mushy or lovey-dovey. When he was in first grade, he came home from school on Valentine’s Day and sorted the cards he’d received into two piles—Good and Bad. I had no idea how he was determining the different piles. Were the good ones from his best friends? Were the bad ones from the girls? No, it turned out he didn’t know or care who the cards were from; the good ones had candy attached. For Jacob, Valentine’s Day was like Halloween in February. It was all about the candy. When my daughter, Faith, was in second grade, I was in charge of bringing a story to the class Valentine’s Day party. Instead of choosing one from the library or book store, I decided to write one myself that made the kids laugh and that honored both ways of looking at the holiday, because in my mind, Valentine’s Day is about candy AND love. After lots of revision, that story turned out to be The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever. 

If you had a Valentine’s card like Leon’s, would you have chased after it too or would you have made a new one?
If I spent the time to create a handmade card for my secret crush and exposed my true feelings, you bet your life I would chase that valentine to the ends of the earth mainly because I’d be so embarrassed if someone else found it and made fun of me.

Do you have any favorite Valentine’s Day memories you’d like to share with us?
Every year on Valentine’s Day, my dad gives me a heart-shaped box of Fannie May chocolates. And ever since I’ve had kids, he gives them to the kids, too. The good news is that my children are very picky chocolate eaters, so I end up getting to eat most of their candy as well. 

What are your favorite kind of Valentine’s Day cards to receive, home made or store bought?
From my kids, handmade is for sure the best, but from my husband, I love to receive store bought cards that make me laugh out loud as long as he also writes something heartfelt and sweet on the inside. And it never hurts if he gives me candy, too. Godiva makes some incredible chocolates. Are you reading this, hon?

What is your favorite kind of Valentine’s candy?
I’m a big fan of anything chocolate. Especially truffles filled with caramel or coconut, and did I mention chocolate?

When you were Leon’s age did you have a secret crush you gave a Valentine’s to?
I had a secret crush in elementary school, but I didn’t dare give him a special valentine. I did, however, invite him to my birthday party, and he came. He was the only boy there. Actually, now that I think about it, I’m sure his mom made him come to my party. How embarrassing. I’m sorry, Teddy!

Thank you Brenda for stopping by Mundie Kids today! 

About the Author:

Brenda A. Ferber is also the author of two novels, Julia's Kitchen and Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire. She lives with her family in Deerfield, IL.  For more information, visit her website:

There's a great Valentine's Day activity kit with free downloadables at her site. Find it at
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~