Plenty of giggles in this Valentine's book

This week's picture book, especially for Valentine's Day, is one in a series written and illustrated by Barbara Samuels.

The characters in the "Dolores" books are Dolores, who appears to be a first- or second-grader; big sister Faye, a sixth-grader; and Duncan, Faye's cat.

Duncan is a comical-looking cat with all sorts of facial expressions that reflect his owner's antics. He's a large cat with shiny green eyes and a white coat that's marked with brown and black patches. His tail is ringed in brown and black, too.

As "Happy Valentine's Day, Dolores" begins, Duncan is sprawled out on top of the piano while Faye and Dolores play a tune.

Blonde-haired Faye is old enough so that her feet touch the floor, but brunette Dolores, who has pulled some of her hair on top of her head and tied it with a bow, sits on her knees. Her red and white tennis shoes hang over the back of the bench.

Now most of the time the sisters get along, but there's one problem. Dolores, accompanied by Duncan, has a bad habit of borrowing things from Faye's room. One day, Faye decides she's had enough so she banishes sister and cat from her room. (Duncan looks pretty unhappy, indeed.)

The next three days the sisters don't speak, even during a lunch of hamburgers and fries. After that Dolores doesn't go into Faye's room -- not until the night she notices Faye putting a small box in her dresser drawer. Curiosity gets the best of Dolores, she steals into Faye's room and pulls out the drawer.

The box is heart-shaped and inside is a frog necklace. It's no ordinary necklace, either. When a button on his tummy is pushed, the frog croaks out a tune. Boy, does Dolores like that necklace, but when she hears Faye's footsteps, she puts it back in the drawer and she and Duncan skedaddle.

The next day at school, while the students are making valentines, Dolores can't stop thinking about the frog necklace. In fact, the valentine she's making is a green frog, and Dolores is so absorbed in thought that she paints a green stripe on top of her nose.

She waters down two students instead of the classroom plants, too. (A hamster looks pretty worried that she might put water on him.)

That afternoon, while Faye is at soccer practice, Dolores just has to try on the necklace. But, alas, when she hears Faye's footsteps, Dolores doesn't have time to take it off. She has to wear it the rest of the day, hiding it in creative ways.

That's just the beginning of this action-packed, funny book. There are plenty of giggles in store for readers as Dolores decides to take this necklace caper one step further.

"Aloha, Dolores" and "Dolores on her Toes" are the titles of two other books in this series.

"Happy Valentine's Day, Dolores" costs $16 in hardcover. It's a Melanie Kroupa Book (Farrar, Straus, and Giraux), 2006. ISBN 13:978-0-374-328443 and ISBN 10: 0-374-32844-7 Happy Valentine's Day!

-- Copyright Diane Prather, 2007. All rights reserved.

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