Bewitching: A Review of My Creepy Valentine

My Creepy Valentine
Written and illustrated by Arthur Howard
Published by Beach Lane Books
Available now
Ages 3-7

Young witch Mitzi loves all holidays–except Valentine’s Day. It’s too schmoopy and lovey-dovey for her tastes. What is the appeal in writing Valentine’s cards to your classmates? But then she meets Spencer. Spencer can do so many great things: spurt milk out of his nose, wiggle his ears while hanging upside down, and construct giant Lego animals! Mitzi decides to write her first Valentine to Spencer. She tries her hardest, “Roses are red. Violets are blue. If a boa constrictor squeezed you, you’d be blue too.” But that doesn’t seem quite right. Instead, she opts for, “Lizards like to slither. Black cats like to doze. I’d like to see you with a spider up your nose.” Mitzi hops on her broom to deliver the Valentine to Spencer’s home, air mail style. She tells her dear cat Hoodwink how excited she is for Spencer’s reply. But at school the next day, Spencer does not even look at her. Sad and disappointed, Mitzi disappears in a poof. Her family tries to cheer her up with bedtime stories and midnight snacks. Then Hoodwink noses his way into Mitzi’s room and gives her a loud purr: one of the very best Valentines she could ask for! Arthur Howard’s Mitzi is an emotive, thoughtful, and delightful young witch—gentle illustrations show off her creepy world and preferences, but in a nonthreatening way that invites curiosity rather than fear. Howard’s blend of colored pencil and watercolor creates a soft yet vibrant look, filled with rich and humorous details related to Mitzi’s witchy world. Mitzi is almost always pictured with her dear cat, Hoodwink, except during school. Her friendship and family connections are real and sweet. Her affection for Spencer is demonstrated in tangible and recognizable ways, and her efforts at composing a Valentine that is true to her feelings are admirable. Encouraging animals and friends off-set Mitzi’s disappointment that Spencer seems to not reciprocate her feelings. The best message of all is that Mitzi is cheered up by her forever friend, Hoodwink the cat; Spencer’s returned Valentine’s Day card is a postscript.