Valentine's Day Get's a Change of Heart this Perfect Picture Book Friday.

When I was in elementary school, one girl made it her daily task to find something mean to say to me. Her unkind words kept me miserable for years.

I well recall Valentine’s Day when we were expected to give a card to every student in homeroom. EVERY STUDENT. I wrote cards for all of my classmates and saved the card I had to give the mean girl for last. I chose the least sweet card in my box of pink, white, and red Valentines. And although I wrote every student’s name at the top and signed my name at the bottom of their card, I left the mean girl’s card blank. I couldn’t bring myself to write her name, and I couldn’t bear the thought of giving her my signature.

Would she care if she got a card from me? Would she notice if I didn’t give her a Valentine? And if I did give her a Valentine, would she tear it up and throw it away?

While I was suffering in visible agony, my mother asked me what was wrong.

“I don’t want to give a Valentine to the mean girl in my homeroom,” I said.

“She probably doesn’t want to give one to you, either,” Mom said, “but there are times when we have to do things we don’t want to do. Instead of keeping bad feelings between you two, why don’t you do something she’d never expect?”

“Tear up her card before she does?” I guessed.

“I was thinking you could give her a nice Valentine’s Day card,” Mom said, “and ask her to be your friend.”

I did as my mother suggested, and the mean girl laughed. At least she didn’t tear up my card.

She crumpled it.

Years later, when elementary school was long behind me, I came home from college for winter break. I was at the grocery store when I saw the mean girl, slicing meat behind the deli counter. Apparently, she saw me, too, because she wiped her hands down her apron and raced out from behind the counter to catch up to me.

I was wondering what mean thing she had saved up to say to me when she did the unexpected.

“I don’t know if you remember how mean I was to you through school,” she said. “And I don’t even know why I wanted to hurt your feelings. But, I’m sorry.” Then, she impulsively hugged me, returned to the deli counter, and left me standing. Dumbfounded.

And this leads me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

Title – Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink

Written and illustrated by- Diane deGroat

Published by- Harper Collins Children’s Books – 1996

Topics – Valentine’s Day, friendship, misunderstandings

Opening – There they were, fifteen blank Valentine cards, waiting to be filled with nice Valentine poems…

Synopsis from Amazon – Gilbert is all set to write fifteen friendly valentine cards to his classmates. But how can he write a nice poem for the boy who tweaked his nose or the girl who made fun of his glasses? Instead, Gilbert writes two not-so-nice valentines…and signs the wrong name on both!

When his classmates read his poems, their feelings are hurt, and Gilbert’s prank quickly turns into pandemonium. But with the help of a friend and an honest apology, there’s always time for a change of heart on Valentine’s Day.

Why do I like this book? Aside from reminding me of my own elementary school, Valentine’s Day dilemma, this story shows that feelings of anger toward someone are often based upon a simple misunderstanding. The colorful, detailed watercolor illustrations add a strong emotional layer to this story of friendship and forgiveness.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Until next Friday.


  1. ptnozell

    This is a perfect book for Valentine’s Day – I think all of us can remember those classmates who were mean and with whom we didn’t want to share our Valentines.

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      As much as I didn’t like to share Valentines with the mean girl, her apology, though many years later, makes this a good memory. I’m glad you like my book choice for this holiday.
      Happy Valentine’s Day!

  2. Darlene

    The perfect book for Valentine’s Day. I believe the tradition of giving out Valentine’s at school has stopped to save the feelings of those who wouldn’t get any.

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      I didn’t know schools stopped the traditional exchange of cards for Valentine’s Day. It makes sense, though… I remember some kids giving super nice cards to their best friends and simpler cards to everyone else. In my family, we make cards for each other, sometimes, even the dog gets a card. 🙂
      Happy Valentine’s Day!

  3. Gabi Snyder

    Thanks for sharing ROSES ARE PINK… along with your own story of a (belated) Valentine’s change of heart. I love that the mean girl in your life eventually apologized.

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      Hi, Gabi, I’m glad the mean girl apologized, too. It sure was a surprise!
      I hope you have a happy Valentine’s Day.

  4. Joanna

    This one has not aged at all! And I love your personal story too.

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      Thanks, Joanna, I’m glad you enjoyed my childhood story. I like when I can tie a memory into my PPBF book reviews. At least this memory came with a happy ending – many years later.
      Happy Valentine’s Day!

  5. Jilanne Hoffmann

    Wow! I love your real life story! And how perfectly it suits the book you’ve chosen, another perfect story for Valentine’s Day. We don’t all get along, and sometimes we’re mean to each other, but it’s not the road we should take. Thanks for suggesting this book!

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      As children, being kind to EVERYONE can be a bit challenging. I love how this book shows that getting a second chance can lead to a change of heart.
      Happy Valentine’s Day, Jilanne.

  6. Patricia Tilton

    This book is timeless. I wonder if the author had a similar experience! Kids can just be mean. I imagine we all have our stories. This is a great share with kids and opportunity to have a great discussion!

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      I’m glad you like my book choice for Valentine’s Day, and I’m sure you’re right that the author had an experience that inspired this story. Misinterpreting other’s comments is easy to do, as this book illustrates, making it a great choice to share in the classroom.
      I wish you a happy Valentine’s Day!

  7. Sue Heavenrich

    wow – what a story you have to tell. And poor Gilbert! What a pickle – and a timeless conundrum for kids everywhere.

  8. Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

    Hi, Sue, when I saw the cover of this book, I knew I wanted to share it for PPBF. A pickle and a conundrum are the perfect words to describe what happens in this story.
    Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day!

  9. Maria Marshall

    It’s so interesting how books can bring up memories long forgotten. That was a rare gift you got – I’m not sure how many of us ever get “resolution” of the “tortures” of elementary school. Definitely a timeless book, as Patricia said.

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      A rare gift indeed! I never expected the mean girl to feel sorry for her words or to have the courage to apologize. The book I reviewed today is one I wish, wish, wish I had written. I often look back at my childhood for sweet memories to inspire picture books, but after reviewing today’s PPBF book, I’m reminded to tap into those unsavory memories, too.