❤️ Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤️
So glad you’re here. You’re just in time for a cup of tea and a freshly baked brownie! Please help yourself. 🙂
I’ve got the perfect picture book to share with you today: I Heart You by Meg Fleming and Sarah Jane Wright (Beach Lane Books, 2016). Have you seen this one yet?
Debut author Meg Fleming celebrates the love between parent and child in a series of endearing animal vignettes. Her spare, lyrical text — just four 3-word sentences for each animal pair — captures different ways parents express love for their little ones.
We first see a young bunny snatching a carrot from a garden, then running back to a waiting parent with it — a cheerful reunion that ends with them snuggling in their burrow.
I see you.
I miss you.
I hug you.
I kiss you.
Foxes play a game of hide and seek; bears chase, frolic in the grass, then pick apples; ducks swim, hop and cuddle; birds “sway” and “swing” before returning to the nest for a song. The book ends with a doe watching over her fawn as it encounters a human child, who has just picked berries with her mother.
I hear you.
I let you.
I know you.
I get you.
Fleming’s simple words intimate emotions and behaviors ranging from affection to mischief, playfulness to caution, elation and comfort, to guidance and watchfulness — a sweet look at the tender moments characterizing life with a small child. Parents will recognize the instances of letting go, while children will view the first independent forays with mother and father close by as familiar and reassuring.
Sarah Jane Wright’s lovely pastel-colored pencil and gouache illustrations depict the animals in sunny meadows, green forests, flower-dotted hillsides, and a grassy pond. A red house seen in the distance in the first bunny scene turns out to be where the little girl and her mother live.
Wright’s last pictures show the sun gradually setting and the blue sky turning salmon with fireflies appearing — beautiful! The book ends with the little girl sitting on her mother’s lap eating berries on a backyard swing, happy and content.
Upon first reading, I was happy to see my favorite animals featured — rabbits, foxes, bears and deer. Though we don’t have any rabbits in our woods, we do love our foxes and deer, whom we see quite often (we feed the foxes every night). Just as well we don’t see any real bears outdoors; we’re happy to have them live inside with us. 🙂
I Heart You is quintessential one-on-one lap reading. Be sure to check it out for a good helping of heartwarming affirmation, guaranteed to make you want to hug, snuggle, or cuddle with the first person you see. 🙂
❤️ CHOCOLATE VALENTINE HEARTS ❤️
All of us here in the Alphabet Soup kitchen love HEARTS (this book pretty much had us at the cover). Since Valentine’s Day is about chocolate (the food of love!), we decided to make brownies in the shape of hearts using a King Arthur Flour recipe.
This is a dense fudgy brownie with chocolate chips — double the decadence. 🙂 The texture is perfect for cutting out heart shapes with a cookie cutter (the taller the cutter the better). There’s a chocolate ganache recipe to go with it — make a little for drizzling, or more if you want to completely coat the brownies. Of course these brownies are already quite rich so they’re good without anything on them at all.
Mr. Cornelius and the furry kitchen helpers had fun baking, cutting, drizzling and devouring these chocolate brownie hearts. There was a lot of paw licking and chocolaty stickiness all around, but nobody seemed to mind.
I see you.
I want you.
I eat you.
I love you.
Would you like another? 🙂
Chocolate Valentine Hearts
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2-1/4 cups sugar
- 1-1/3 cups Dutch-process cocoa
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 2/3 cup chocolate chips
- 6 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1-1/3 cups chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan. Line with parchment, then grease the parchment.
- To make the brownies: Melt the butter in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
- Return the mixture to the heat just until it’s hot but not bubbling. This will help dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on the brownies.
- Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla.
- Whisk in the eggs, stirring until smooth; then add the flour, chips, and espresso powder, again stirring until smooth.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake the brownies for 28 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
- Remove the brownies from the oven and cool them on a rack for 20 minutes before turning them out of the pan.
- Loosen the edges; use a spatula or turner to loosen the bottom as much as possible; then flip the pan over onto another sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Peel the parchment off the bottom of the brownies. Let them cool completely.
- Use a 2″ heart cutter to cut 3 dozen hearts out of the brownies. Place the hearts on a rack set over a piece of parchment or waxed paper.
- To make the ganache, combine the chips, cream and corn syrup in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat until the cream is very hot, then stir the mixture until the chips melt.
- Drizzle over the brownie hearts, or spread to cover completely.
*If you’re allergic or wish to avoid corn syrup, you may substitute honey or maple syrup.
I HEART YOU
written by Meg Fleming
illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright
published by Beach Lane Books, December 2016
Picture Book for ages 4-8, 32 pp.
**Starred Review** from Publishers Weekly
❤️ Art Prints from this book available at Sarah Jane Wright’s Studio Shop.
❤️ ❤️ HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! ❤️ ❤️
🌺 WE LOVE YOU! 🌺
Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.