THE BEST BIRTHDAY PARTY EVER

A little girl is planning her birthday party, which is only five months, three weeks, two days and eight hours away. She wants to make all the invitations and invite all her friends, “Plus my grandmas. And the mailman. And the lady at the bank who gives me lollipops.” As the day looms closer, she thinks about thousands of balloons—all pink—and 17 (different!) layers of cake. There will be real tiaras for the girls and clown hats with bells, all made by her mother. Her dad will build the castle with the moat (Pham adds a grandma snorkeling in that moat to the little girl’s mental image). Finally, the day comes, and even though there are no magicians or Ferris wheel and only two layers of cake, it is a perfectly splendid party. Pham’s appropriately rosy watercolors are just the right pairing for the ebullient text, which tumbles about the pages. The girl’s room—very pink, initially rather neat, with her dog and her hamster and her favorite toy elephant, Ferris wheel, and castle and books like Cakes Made Simple!—turns into an utterly messy amalgam of all of her ideas just before the actual party. Her parents keep smiling through it all, her bearded dad and her mom with an adult version of her haircut. There are smiles, actually, all around for everyone. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-84763-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.

RED AND LULU

A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Kid-friendly dark humor.

POULTRYGEIST

The chicken crosses the road…and arrives on the other side as a ghost.

The action kicks off before the title page when the chicken crossing the road winds up a splatter of feathers against the grille of a tractor trailer. When its ghost rises from the squished remains, it meets a host of other animal ghosts that encourage the new poultrygeist to start getting scary. They probably didn’t realize, however, that they’d be the ones to be frightened. Geron’s text is full of punny lines like “It’s time to get foul, fowl!” and “Ghosts of a feather haunt together!” Midway through, the poultrygeist turns to readers to make sure they’re not too scared. This is a nice touch, maintaining engagement while also giving more timid readers time to take a beat. Oswald’s illustrations display masterful use of color, with bright, ghostly animals against a dark, often all-black background, the dialogue shown in colors that correspond to the speakers. These ghosts do become scary but not enough to completely terrorize readers. Oswald’s skill is seen in full effect, as readers witness only the animal ghosts’ reactions to the poultrygeist’s scariest face, building suspense for the full reveal. This book is just right for kids easing into the slightly scary and macabre but who still want a safe and fun read.

Kid-friendly dark humor. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1050-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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