"Mr. Hatch was tall and thin and he did not smile." And so begins the story of Mr. Hatch, a lonesome man who leads a gray and dreary life. He leaves his house at precisely 6:30am for his job at the shoelace factory every day, sits alone and eats his cheese and mustard sandwich for lunch every day, and stops at the grocery store for a fresh turkey wing for dinner every day. And then one day, a day unlike every other day, the postman changes Mr. Hatch's world when he delivers a giant heart-shaped box of chocolates, complete with a special Valentine's note. "Somebody loves you," the note says. But who?
In Eileen Spinelli's Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch (our favorite Valentine story that we read year-round), we get a peek into how someone's whole life can change with one simple expression of love. As soon as Mr. Hatch reads that note, his world becomes more colorful and expressive -- captured perfectly by illustrator Paul Yalowitz -- as he begins wearing polka dot ties, helps out neighbors in need, throws backyard parties complete with homemade brownies, and laughs like he's never laughed before.
But just when we think all is right in Mr. Hatch's life, the postman returns to admit that he delivered the box to the wrong address, and suddenly Mr. Hatch's new found joy disappears (as does the color from Yalowitz's illustrations). And just when you want to jump into the pages of Mr. Hatch's world and say, "but WE love you, Mr. Hatch," the many people whose lives he touched in those few brief days of happiness band together and show Mr. Hatch exactly what he means to them.
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch is a story that has brings tears of empathy and joy. With its simply written story and expressive pictures, not only does it teach that saying "I love you" can change someone's life, but that opening up to other people can change your life, too -- an important lesson for kids and grownups alike.