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NIKKI & DEJA by Karen English


Birthday Blues

by Karen English and illustrated by Laura Freeman

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-618-97787-1
Publisher: Clarion

Little girls, little girls…they can be mean sometimes. Deja’s birthday is coming up, and she is filled with all the anticipation a soon-to-be-eight-year-old can hold. Will her absent father come? Will she get the special ring from her Auntie Dee? Things fall apart when Antonia, Deja’s nemesis, decides to have a “just because” sundae-and-trampoline party at the same time, with the result that everyone chooses Antonia’s party. This straightforward plot explores Deja’s reaction to the unexpected turn and makes few judgments of who is right and wrong. Perhaps Antonia is jealous of Deja and Nikki’s close friendship? Maybe she didn’t sabotage Deja’s party? In the end, when Deja finds out how much she means to her Auntie, she gets the best present of all. A clear typeface, ample white space and Freeman’s occasional black-and-white illustrations make this accessible to new chapter-book readers, although a note printed in unlinked cursive might confuse some. Likable and independent African-American girls are a rare find in early chapter books—let’s hope these two can start a trend. (Fiction. 6-10)