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by Cassandra Hill

ISBN: 978-1-60402-867-6

An Egyptian cat has pink fur, a colorful party hat and friends from around the world.

In this second book from author/illustrator Hill, Shyann celebrates her birthday. Her friends join Shyann and in the process teach readers simple birthday greetings in their native languages, along with birthday customs from their homelands. Daisy from Hawaii brings a calabash and a grass skirt and teaches Shyann the hula dance. A Brazilian guest, Martha, wears a flowing blue dancing dress and brings homemade fruit-shaped candy and paper flowers. Juan visits from Mexico and brings a piñata in the shape of a bull, filled with surprises. All the guests learn to say “Happy Birthday” in Arabic when Maya arrives, bringing Egyptian decorations, a tall, festive cake and a bracelet made from special stones. Tsehai brings a netala, explained as a traditional shawl, provides birthday greetings in Amharic and teaches an Ethiopian dance. Shyann’s German friend Tommy wears lederhosen and shares a German custom of a piling a chair with gifts, then dancing around it while singing. Shyann has another friend from Kenya, who brings greetings in Swahili, a dance and some Kenyan shillings. Finally, Lee arrives from China and bows to greet the assembled guests, fortune cookies in hand. Presented in verse form with no specific meter, It’s Your Birthday Shyann is fully and brightly illustrated, with a small map and flag included for each visitor, as well as basic instructions for the dances. Hill provides proper pronunciations and depicts each visitor in a traditional costume, teaching readers about many different cultures. While the bright illustrations lack sophistication, younger children aren’t likely to be bothered. Older readers may find the costumes and the introduction to other languages interesting and worthy of further study.

A valuable tale that promotes multicultural education.