A dinosaur celebrates his birthday with friends, games, and cake in this debut rhyming picture book.
It’s a big day for little Herbie Vore: It’s his birthday. The green dinosaur lives with his parents, who greet him on his special day with pancakes. A refrain through the tale goes “Happy Birthday, Hooray! / Today is Herbie’s special day.” After breakfast, Herbie dresses up in a vest, bow tie, and polka-dotted hat to greet his guests. When Herbie’s friends arrive, they play games, break a piñata, enjoy treats, sing “Happy Birthday,” and have cake. A group photograph and presents follow. That night, Herbie wonders why birthdays are only annual, and his mother explains that “if birthdays came ’round more than one time a year, / your special day would lose its good cheer.” While many kids will be familiar with birthday celebration rituals, this series opener provides the valuable reminder that bedtime means the end of a special day, and birthdays happen just once a year. Phillips and Jackson’s rhyming passages can work well, but sometimes scan awkwardly: “ ‘Happy Birthday Herbie!’ they yelled. / He greeted them with excitement. / Pancakes he smelled.” The images by debut illustrator Mills are colorful, cartoonish, and three-dimensional, but static; though the dinos wear clothes, Herbie’s animal friends don’t.
A simple tale that helps set birthday expectations for young dino lovers.