A creature’s surprise birthday party goes awry when all of the guests get the flu in this rhyming picture book debut.
Lion is sad and lonely on his birthday. But then his friends arrive with flowers, presents, and balloons—and the revels begin. Unfortunately, Hippo starts sneezing. Soon, Hippo, Gorilla, Rhino, and Polar Bear have all come down with the flu, and poor Lion is left running to get them tea, tissues, soup, and “goo” for chests. All that work is too much: “ ‘I want my mommy!’ Lion roared. / They all whined, ‘We do too!’ ” But they start mending, and soon Lion’s friends are feeling great—and taking care of the big cat, who’s finally caught the flu. Michaels’ rhyme scheme flows beautifully throughout, with smart word choices like “askew” and “flared” that painlessly introduce vocabulary to newly independent readers. The cartoon images by debut illustrator Hernandez are a comical delight, with the huge (all male) animals snuggled up sick in the same large bed. Occasionally, the text and the accompanying picture aren’t quite in synch. A description of Hippo’s sneeze blowing everyone’s food everywhere is matched with a close-up of his face and the aftermath of the calamity, making it feel as though a transition is missing. But young readers will be able to piece together the clues.
A cleverly funny animal tale with giggleworthy illustrations.