Candice had selected a special book to take with her today to the Takoma school in DC where she tutors young children in reading. When I saw it, I smiled. It was the perfect choice.
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch (1991) by Eileen Spinelli is — to put it simply — the best Valentine’s Day book ever. Mr. Hatch is the loneliest man in town. He would leave his brick house at 6:30 sharp every morning to walk to the shoelace factory, where he worked. At lunchtime he would sit alone in the corner, eating his cheese and mustard sandwich and drinking a cup of coffee. Sometimes he brought a prune for dessert.
Then one Saturday, the postman dropped off a mysterious package. Mr. Hatch didn’t normally receive much mail because he didn’t have any friends. But inside he found a big heart-shaped box tied up with a bow and filled with candy. The note with the package simply said, “Somebody loves you.”
Mr. Hatch had a secret admirer!
Over the course of the next few pages, Mr. Hatch is transformed. He takes the candy to share with his fellow workers at the factory. He helps out the men running the newspaper stand and the meat counter. He bakes brownies for the neighborhood kids. He even pulls out his old harmonica to play for backyard parties.
Suddenly, though, his mood changes. Only one other person knows why. But by book’s end, Mr. Hatch learns who loves him. And it is more wonderful than he ever imagined.
As I do virtually every time I read this story, I cried.
You can listen — and cry if you wish — to the story as told in this beautiful reading by Hector Elizondo.
Here’s wishing you a Valentine’s Day where you discover — and hear from — all those who love you.
More to come…
Photo of abstract valentines by Susan Wilkinson on Unsplash
My friend Catherine Leonard, the Secretary-General of INTO, commented on LinkedIn from her home in the UK. She wrote,
“Ah, I just listened to the story. A lovely choice.”
It reminded me of how children in different countries hear and learn different stories, yet some themes are universal.
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