It’s a first birthday celebration for baby, and lots of baby friends join in the festivities.
The book opens on baby waiting expectantly to be lifted from the crib and progresses through all of the birthday fun, showing friends arriving, cake, and ice cream before closing with bathtime, snuggles, and sleep. Godwin and Bell’s text focuses on the birthday baby and friends, and the story is told almost entirely through descriptions of the babies and Blackwood’s illustrations of them. “Lazy baby” describes a sleeping friend, “brave baby” goes down the slide head first, and “sad baby” has just lost dessert to the dog. No pronouns are ever used to describe the babies, and while some wear dresses or tutus, there is no specific gender attached to any particular illustration—a nice touch, whether intentional or not. Some tots are browner than others (the protagonist presents white), and a pair of twins are cued as black via their hairstyles. Blackwood’s illustrations nevertheless are lovely, with her customary delicately energetic line and a palette of mostly primary red, yellow, and blue. Adult readers will appreciate the two-page spread that so accurately depicts what it’s like trying to take a photo of a group of wiggly little ones. Overall, this is a nice approach to the classic first-birthday book, offering a sense of play and nuance in both the brief text and the lovely illustrations.
A refreshing first-birthday book, with subtleties for adult readers and details for little ones. (Picture book. 2-5)