Illustrated by Paul Yalowitz
Reading level: Ages 3 and up
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Growing up, I remember the blend of excitement and anxiety I felt about going to school on February 14. On the evening of February 13, I would spend hours on the cards for each of my classmates. At my school, it was a rule that you either brought a valentine to each and every student, or you didn’t bring any at all. Because of this, the selection of just the right valentine for just the right student became crucially important.
My parents always gave me the generic character valentines to hand out—with a “To” and “Love” on the back, and a popular cartoon character on the front. The problem was, that character usually had a message, ranging anywhere from “Happy Valentine’s Day” to “Be my Valentine” and even things like “To a special somebody.” The last thing you wanted to do was tell the wrong person that you cared just a little too much.
The Story: Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch is the story of a lonely man who lives a very dull life. Every day, he wakes up and puts on the same old suit and follows the same old routine. He goes to work, he reads the paper, and then he goes to bed. One day his routine is interrupted by a knock on the door. To his surprise, the mailman delivers him a very special package—a heart shaped box of chocolates with one simple message: “Somebody loves you.” Mr. Hatch is blown away. Suddenly, his life doesn’t feel so dull. After all, how can life be dull if somebody loves you?
The next day, Mr. Hatch is sure to be extra nice to everybody in the neighborhood. He even bakes delicious brownies for each and every one of the children. Life for Mr. Hatch is more delightful than ever, when suddenly the mailman knocks on his door once more. This time, the message he brings is not so wonderful—the package he delivered was meant for somebody else.
When Mr. Hatch comes out of his house in his old drab suit, and once again begins to follow his same old routine, the community bands together to lift his spirits and show him just how loved he truly is.
The Artwork: Paul Yalowitz’s illustrations mirror the warm, feel-good tone of the book. Soft color-penciled pictures help to transform Mr. Hatch’s life from being drab and colorless to warm and pleasant, perfectly capturing the way he sees the world in one moment to the next.
The Message: Looking back to my days at school, the funny thing was, on the actual morning of Valentine’s Day when I would go to the “mailbox” I had created, I was always excited to see 25 valentines. For some reason, each and every valentine I received made me feel special. The fact that they were required somehow seemed irrelevant, and the whole class seemed happy and united in the process of feeling loved, and eating candy of course.
The message in Somebody Loves You is just that—one little gesture of love (any kind of love), can make somebody’s day, and even change their life. In Mr. Hatch’s case, the possibility that he may be loved drives him to go out and create love in his own life.
My Only Issue: I would love it if this book were available in digital format as well as print.
Conclusion: This book would make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. Buy Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch from Amazon, your local bookstore, or rent it from your local library to share with the little pickles in your life.