Valentine's Day is a celebration devoted to sweet sentiments and sweet treats. Valley bookstores and public libraries have been busy since the beginning of the month reading holiday-themed stories and dispensing cookies and candy. Today through Saturday, which is Valentine's Day, Valley kids from toddlers to age 10 or 11 can participate in the holiday action.
The range of stories being read during these story times is widening. Yes, there will be accounts of the origins of the celebration, but there will also be contemporary material.
An aardvark, of all things, has become a big player during mid-February, largely due to the TV presence of the animated character named Arthur. "Arthur's Valentine," by Marc Brown, is being read aloud during story hour at almost every library and bookstore.
Katy Cueba, the children's librarian at the Northridge branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, is going to push the envelope further at today's story time. She will provide kids an insight into the mysteries of the word "love" as it's expressed in Chinese pictographic characters.
"It's very complicated," she said, explaining that there are words within words, and words within images. The Chinese word for love, for example, consists of the pictograph for heart and friendship, both surrounded by the image of embracing arms.
Since Cueba also wants to be sure to have a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, she will read from "Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink," by Diane De Grat.
Michael Shaw, children's librarian at the Van Nuys branch, plans a more traditional program, including poetry appropriate for kids, such as "Good Morning to You, Valentine" and others about friendship, from an anthology edited by Lee Hopkins.
On Saturday at Borders Books in Glendale there will be a cookie-decorating event, along with readings from the Arthur book and others. Maria Olivares, head of the children's department, has enlisted the help of a professional baker from a neighboring business.
The result will be fresh, heart-shaped cookies for kids to decorate, provided by Bernadette Sperry, owner of Aurora Bakery, a wholesale and custom-pastry provider.
Burbank Public Library, Buena Vista branch, Valentine-themed preschool story time, filmstrips, crafts and refreshments, today at 10 a.m., 491 N. Buena Vista Ave. Free; call (818) 238-5620.
Los Angeles Public Library:
* Northridge branch, "Happy Valentine Stories and Treats," today at 3:30 p.m., 9051 Darby Ave. Free; call (818) 886-3460.
* Van Nuys branch, "Valentine's Day Stories and Crafts," today at 3:30 p.m., 620 Sylmar Ave. (Mall). Free; call (818) 756-8453.
La Crescenta Public Library, "Valentine Stories for Preschool Children," Friday at 10 a.m. and a "Family Valentine Program" on Saturday at 2 p.m, 4521 La Crescenta Ave. Free; call (818) 248-5313.
Glendale Borders Books, "Valentine Stories and Cookie Decorating," Saturday at 4 p.m., 100 S. Brand Blvd. Free; call (818) 241-0899.