The English language is structured for creativity, not for precision engineering. Too many phrases are ambiguous. When I tell my wife “I can’t love you any more!”, am I noting that I used to love her, but am no longer capable of doing so? Or am I telling her that my love is turned up to 100%, that I am utterly and totally in love with her? I’m not telling. Not even her.
The title to Who’s Your Valentine, Charlie Brown? is similar. Is it asking “Charlie Brown, who is your valentine?” Or is it “Is your valentine Charlie Brown?” Looking at the cover, if the question is the former, then it is aimed at Charlie Brown; if the latter, it’s aimed at Snoopy in which case that might not seem to be a reasonable question. But then one starts to think about what “valentine” means in this context. After all, in some contexts it means simply a Valentine’s Day card; when we speaking of school children giving each other “valentines”, we just mean the card. But those cards often say “be my valentine”, so clearly it’s a request for some personal relationship, and as it turns out, the question is a very good one, because (and I’m going to have to spoil the ending of this 10-page heart-shaped board book here) the climax of the story is that Snoopy gives Charlie Brown a Valentine’s Day card. Apparently, he is requesting that Charlie Brown become his valentine! So the ambiguity of the title is never settled; it is neither lady nor tiger but rests in the same state of uncertainty as Schroedinger’s cat.
This masterpiece of ambiguity is writ by Tina Gallo and illustrated by Vicki Scott.