On the cover of this picture book, an impossibly cute, sad-looking boa lolls from a tree branch, birthday hat on his head. What could possibly be the matter?
Boa is having a bad birthday. Each time one of his jungle friends arrives for his party, Boa bolsters his hopes for a wonderful present only to be disappointed. Orangutan gives him a piano; but Boa has no fingers! Monkey brings him sunglasses; but Boa can’t wear them without ears and a nose! Willis gets the tone just right, likely eliciting both gales of laughter and sympathy from youngsters. Ross’ loose, colorful pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations capture the ridiculous situations and poor Boa’s reactions. The comedic high comes when Dung Beetle arrives with a pile of You Know What! In an ingenious twist, Dung Beetle’s gift turns out to be absolutely perfect. Unfortunately, the tale does not end there. In closing, readers are admonished to accept all gifts with gratitude, and in a non sequitur household scene that will provoke more confusion than satisfaction, a delighted child is seen receiving Boa as a gift.
Festive fare that ultimately misses the mark. (Picture book. 4-8)