PICTURE BOOK THE HOUND FROM THE POUND by Jessica Swaim, illustrated by Jill McElmurry (Candlewick) Let's celebrate Valentine's Day with a little puppy love! Lonely Miss Mary Lynn MacIntosh is irresistibly drawn to the bad boy of the bunch at the pound: a basset with no obedience training, but enough of a leader of the pack to have every other canine follow him to his new home. Overwhelmed with paw prints and puddles, Sam the Trainer comes to Mary Lynn's rescue, and while the old dogs learn new tricks, the affection between the couple grows by leaps and bow-wownds. The affair culminates in a marvelous wedding with Mary Lynn in a poodle-inspired gown, and a basset as best man. Pictures books in verse can be cloying, but the meter is this book is so tight and the lines so witty, and with a joyful refrain, it's a good example of what a rhyming book should be. Double-page spreads have lots to look at but are anchored by bold brush strokes and a brown-based palette, and care is given so that each canine has a personality. An earthy, true-to-life depiction of Not-So-Still Life with Dogs, young readers and listeners will love the chance to chime in with recognized breeds and to howl "AH-ROOoooooo!" with the best of 'em. This funny book is a real tail-wagger! (4 and up) Also of interest: Visit my page of Unlovable Love Stories for some of my favorites, such as Leah Wilcox's FALLING FOR RAPUNZEL (Putnam) and Vladimir Radunsky's euphemistic TEN, which is oddly sexy (if you like armadillos). Also check out the "Ten Ways to Use Books and Reading to Say I Love You on Valentine's Day," and every day. What could be more romantic than cuddling up and reading aloud?