BIRTHDAYS AROUND THE WORLD

Lankford and Dugan (Dominoes Around the World, 1998, etc.) continue their partnership as they present birthday customs, foods, and games from seven different countries. After an introduction that briefly covers the subject from ancient Rome, when Caesar Augustus was honored each month, to today’s national holidays, celebrated on the birthdays of famous people, double-paged spreads with text on one side and warm, realistic paintings of festive families and friends describe birthday happenings in Finland, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Sweden. There is no indication why Lankford chose these countries and no country from Africa or the Middle East. Dugan numbers these random countries on a simple map and keyed to their names. Although the map lacks the names of continents, each country’s description begins with a boxed paragraph stating the location of each and some assorted facts. She mentions the Nobel Prize on the Swedish page and cites the rubber plants of Malaysia as the source of pencil erasers. The descriptions of the birthday celebrations are informative and usually include the directions for games, a Lankford specialty. “Drop the Handkerchief” from the Netherlands, “Pass the Parcel” from New Zealand, and “Coyote and Sheep” from Mexico are three that can easily be played at any birthday party. She includes party foods such as pansit, a noodle dish representing the wishes for a long life in the Philippines, and tidbits of information about gift customs and birthday songs. A general summary of birthday superstitions and a listing of birthday gems, flowers, and character traits for each month is a practical touch, as is a complete plan for an around-the-world birthday party with an ocean theme (chosen because an ocean touches each country). A description of a birthday book club, a boon to school libraries, rounds out this useful, if limited, compendium of birthday traditions. (bibliography, index) (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-688-15431-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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A PLUMP AND PERKY TURKEY

The leaves have changed, Thanksgiving nears—and the canny turkeys of Squawk Valley have decamped, leaving local residents to face the prospect of a birdless holiday. What to do? They decide to lure a bird back by appealing to its vanity, placing a want ad for a model to help sculptors creating turkey art, then “inviting” the bird to dinner. The ploy works, too, for out of the woods struts plump and perky Pete to take on the job. Shelly debuts with brightly hued cartoon scenes featuring pop-eyed country folk and deceptively silly-looking gobblers. Pete may be vain, but he hasn’t lost the wiliness of his wild ancestors; when the townsfolk come for him, he hides amidst a flock of sculpted gobblers—“There were turkeys made of spuds, / there were turkeys made of rope. / There were turkeys made of paper, / there were turkeys made of soap. / The room was full of turkeys / in a wall to wall collage. / For a clever bird like Pete / it was perfect camouflage.” He makes his escape, and is last seen lounging on a turkey-filled tropical beach as the disappointed Squawk Valleyites gather round the table for a main course of . . . shredded wheat. Good for a few giggles. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-890817-91-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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CHRISTMAS DAY IN THE MORNING

This longer story by Nobel Laureate Buck, originally published in 1955, is presented for the first time as an illustrated work for children. Early one Christmas, an older man thinks back to his best Christmas morning in the year that he was 15 and living on his family dairy farm. That year, the narrator of the story, Rob, surprised his father with a special, heart-felt gift by getting up in the middle of the night to do all the milking by himself so his father could have Christmas morning off. The boy’s joy in planning the surprise for his father and the touching appreciation, pride, and love in the father’s gratitude are effectively conveyed in both the moving text and in Buehner’s (Snowmen at Night, p. 1385, etc.) realistic paintings. His deep-toned, striking illustrations are mainly set at night, with snowy farm scenes lit only by glowing lantern and shining star. One spread shows the Nativity scene with puffy clouds in a turquoise evening sky shaped like angel heralds, and the following memorable spread of the barn at night repeats this element with subtle clouds in the shapes of the participants in the manger setting. Buck’s sentimental but touching story memorably illustrates the value of a gift created with love, a gift like Buehner’s. (illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-688-16267-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2002

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