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WILLIE’S BIRTHDAY by Anastasia Suen


by Anastasia Suen & illustrated by Allan Eitzen

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-670-88943-1
Publisher: Viking

This title is part of Viking’s easy-to-read series, with characters inspired by Ezra Jack Keats. While Eitzen hues very close to the artwork of Keats, Suen must go farther afield than Keats’s wonderfully sparse, syncopated writing to fill the verbiage necessary to make this an early reader. A handful of children are invited over to Peter and Willie’s house to celebrate the dachshund’s birthday. Each child brings along a pet, and pretty soon the action revolves around trying to keep order in the gathering mayhem of dog, cat, bird, and fish. As the kids try to engage the animals in fun and games that would be appropriate for a human party, the animals resist: the cat will not wear a hat, thank you, and Willie is not happy to be blindfolded, even for a game of give-the-dog-a-bone. Ultimately, the cat goes after the fish, Willie goes after the cat, the cake crashes to the floor (but that doesn’t stop anyone from eating it). A fairly joyous little effort, one that keeps the words hopping to keep the readers reading: “Meow! purred the cat. She put her paw into the fishbowl. ‘My fish!’ said Susie. She let go of the blindfold. ‘Shoo! Shoo! Go away!’ Willie jumped out of Peter’s arms. Arf! Arf! he barked. Meow! went the cat.” As Peter says when he rescues the fishbowl, “Safe,” and not a bad idea for reaching a new audience. (Easy reader. 5-8)