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)