Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch

Valentine's Day Picture Book

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch - picture book cover
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, a Valentine's Day Picture Book. Simon and Schuster

Summary of Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, a Valentine's Day picture book by Eileen Spinelli, wonderfully illustrates the power of love and friendship. It would make an excellent gift for a young child. The illustrations are by Paul Yalowitz whose whimsical, textured artwork adds greatly to the story of a lonely man whose life is changed by an anonymous gift, a change in attitude and the kindness of others.

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch is a book I recommend for parents to read aloud and talk about with their kids, ages 4-8.

Mr. Hatch and His Lonely Life

The main character in the picture book is a very lonely man, Mr. Hatch. The story begins with a description of Mr. Hatch's lonely daily life. He lives alone, barely knows or talks to anyone, works all day in a shoelace factory, buys a fresh turkey wing for supper each day, eats, takes a shower, and goes to bed. In his neighborhood and at work people say the same thing about Mr. Hatch, "He keeps to himself." Mr. Hatch's loneliness is illustrated with drab colors and by the way in which the artist depicts him: shoulders slumped, head down, manner subdued.

A Big Change for Mr. Hatch

All of this changes when the postman brings Mr. Hatch a huge, heart shaped box of chocolates along with a card that says, "Somebody loves you." Mr. Hatch is so happy he does a little dance.

Because he thinks he might meet his secret admirer, Mr. Hatch puts on a colorful tie and some old aftershave. He takes the box of chocolates to work to share.

He even talks to Mr. Smith at his newspaper stand, notices he looks sick, and offers to watch the newsstand while Mr. Smith goes to the doctor's office.

Mr. Hatch continues to talk to others, to help those in need, and to share with his neighbors.

In fact, Mr. Hatch bakes brownies and holds an impromptu picnic for his neighbors at which he plays his old harmonica for them. His neighbors enjoy being with Mr. Hatch and like him very much. The more Mr. Hatch is friendly and kind to his neighbors, the more they reciprocate.

When the postman tells Mr. Hatch that the candy had been delivered to his house by mistake and that he doesn't have a secret admirer, Mr. Hatch becomes withdrawn again. The postman tells the neighbors what has happened. The neighbors get together and throw a big surprise party for Mr. Hatch, complete with candy, a new harmonica, and a big sign that said, "Everybody loves Mr. Hatch."

My Recommendation

This is a charming book with a powerful message. The importance of love and kindness comes through loud and clear. Even very young children will understand how good it is to feel loved and how important it is to help others feel loved. While this is an excellent Valentine's Day book, the story is one children will enjoy year round.
(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1996, Paperback. ISBN: 9780689718724)

Other Good Books for Valentine's Day

One of the children's books I particularly recommend is the special pop-up gift edition of by Sam McBratney, with Anita Jeram's delightful illustrations and Corina Fletcher's well-designed paper engineering.

You'll find more books on my annotated list of the Top Children's Books for Valentine's Day, which includes picture books, such as , Queen of Hearts Love, Splat and t, plus the beginning readers Too Many Valentines and Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine.