Other birthday-themed books present more realistic versions of these annual celebrations, acknowledging that most parties...

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BIRTHDAY RULES

Percy Isaac Gifford shares his rules for maximizing birthday fun.

In a stuttering rhythm, Friedman’s rhyming verses describe how Percy goes about preparing for and then enjoying his birthday. “The first thing you should know: / This day comes just once a year. / So enjoy every moment! It’s filled with birthday cheer.” Most parents will be chagrined to notice that Percy’s initials dance uncomfortably close to his actions: “This rule is my mantra: / Today is all about you!”; “There’s no time like the present for a present”; “Anything is good that comes wrapped in a bow!” Happily, he does note that kids should say thank you to each gift-giver and help clean up after the festivities. Otherwise, though, his rules are nothing earth-shattering or surprising, and at best, they can be considered slightly strange—look your best, eat every bite of cake, it’s not a party until the birthday song’s been sung. Ultimately readers will be left feeling slightly cheated, as there’s nothing here they couldn’t figure out for themselves. Patterned-paper backgrounds and found objects collaged in to the illustrations add textural interest to Murfin’s artwork, which is filled with rosy-cheeked characters with oddly placed (and shaped) noses.

Other birthday-themed books present more realistic versions of these annual celebrations, acknowledging that most parties are not all fun and games and that a little rain falls on every parade. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6071-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious...

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS MOTHER'S DAY BLESSINGS

From the Berenstain Bears series

The Berenstains’ son adds a Mother’s Day entry to the series, continuing the adventures of the Bear family with a religious focus.

Brother, Sister, and Honey want to do something special for Mama for Mother’s Day, and Papa helps them think of just the thing—brunch at the Bear Country Inn after church—and they can invite Grizzly Gran, too. On the ride to church, Mama points out all the ways other families are celebrating their own mothers even though these community helpers are working on the holiday: Officer Marguerite’s children bring her flowers as she directs traffic, and Mrs. Ben’s children are pitching in with farm chores. Indeed, the trip to church is eye-opening for the cubs, who never realized that some of their neighbors even had children. During the church service, Preacher Brown thanks God for the gift of mothers and quotes the Bible: “Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches.” While the illustrations are the same as ever (the smiling bears haven’t aged a bit!), the series seems to have moved away from addressing a variety of families.

This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious services, contrary to its apparent message that being together is all that matters. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-310-74869-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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