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My Funny Valentine: Love Letters by Arnold Adoff



"You're my funny valentine, sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable, unphotographable
Yet, you're my favorite work of art."
By Rodgers & Hart

Growing up, I never crushed on the cutie patooties or the hottie patotties.  I fell for the guys who could make me laugh hysterically or make me swoon by reciting poetry.  So, it's only natural that as a teacher, the valentine books I love the most incorporate poetry and humor.  That's what led me to Love Letters by Arnold Adoff.  This book is comprised of funny, touching, and yet untraditional love letters written as poems.  The letters are addressed to teachers, classmates, family members, or to"fill-in-your-own-name," which is the perfect poem for those people who have a harem of admirers.  The poems in this book stand independently and could be shared one at a time over the course of a couple of weeks. 
Adoff uses fantastic imagery that any child can relate to,  "I love you more than peanut butter cookies crumble. I  love you more than yellow bees bumble. I also love you more than dark thunder clouds rumble..."  These lines are from the poem entitle "Dear Tall Girl at the Front Table," one of my favorites in the book.
I shared this book with my students this past week.  My fourth grade boys were over the moon with silliness (4th grade crushes are in full bloom).  After they got over their giggling fits, they thoroughly enjoyed it.  In fact, one of those giggling boys actually quoted some of the poems, telling the others that he loved this book.
Then, I introduced  the idea of writing our own love letters to things we love.  I wanted to avoid people because as I've said before, love is in the air in room 7.  Some of the poems in Love Letters are responses to love letters received.  Those responses make it clear that the affection isn't returned.  So I really wanted to avoid writing to people.
We brainstormed a list of ideas that included: A  pet dog, cat, guinea pig, etc., pepperoni pizza, mom's lasagna, brussel sprouts, broccoli, piano, hockey stick, soccer ball, x-box, play station, Legos, teddy bear, favorite book, favorite book character, etc.
My teaching partner had recently taught a mini-unit on using figurative language, and students had zeroed in on this during our reading of Love Letters. I modeled my own love letter to macaroni  & cheese.  You can see it below:

Dear Macaroni and Cheese,
I looooove your cheesy goodness.
I am overwhelmed by your
bubbling orange-ness.
I love you more than a dog
loves its bone,
more than a baby
loves its bottle.
Your crispy cracker crumbs,
golden like the summer sun,
send me over the moon.
I will love you forever.
Love,
Your Hungry Fan

(By Ms. Willis)
My students identified comparative statements (simile-like), personification, alliteration, and descriptive language.  Then, I modeled a not-so-loving letter.  You can also see it below:
  
Dear Brussel Sprouts,
I loathe your army-green leafy heads
wrapped tightly on my dinner plate.
No bacon or butter
can disguise your nastiness,
your cruciferous  metallic taste.
You look like mutant baby heads.
And on dark and lonely nights,
you hold me hostage
at the supper table,
long after the dishes have been done,
and the kitchen
has been cleaned.
 Signed with disgust,
I'll-eat-any-other-vegetable-other-than-you Girl
Our students were so excited to try writing their own.  After I modelled writing my two poems, they got down to business.  We're still working on these poems  and will be compiling them in an envelope book that will kept in our classroom library. 
My favorite line from a student poem is by one of our  newcomer students.  He writes in his love letter to the moon, "You visit me each night. I love you more than the sun.  I love you more than a Justin Bieber song."  He is a HUGE Justin Bieber fan. 
Our funny valentines definitely made me smile at the end of a very long, and tiring week. 
To spread the love, feel free to click below for a free set of valentine bookmarks for your students. 
Wishing you love, smiles, and laughter!
Tracy @
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Wild-Child-Designs
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Check out these teacher-writers below for some inspiring ideas!




9 comments

  1. I had forgotten all about that book and how much my students and I loved it! Thank you for bringing back a wonderful memory! I love your two poems!

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    Replies
    1. I love this book too, obviously! Great minds and great hearts think alike! Thank you, Retta!

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  2. I can see why students love that book! I will have to look it up. Your poems are fantastic!

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  3. Great book, just love the poems. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Oh Macaroni and Cheese, let me count the ways....

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  5. I did not know this book; I'll have to put it on my list. It sounds adorable!! Thanks!

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