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. 10She 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!