A little girl experiences big feelings on her birthday.
The protagonist’s gender is implied by her dress and her bobbed hairstyle, and the first-person text immediately immerses readers in her negativity: “It’s my birthday. So boo! I hate all of you.” A scowling, up-close portrait of the pink-faced, dark-haired girl depicts her wearing a party hat and sticking her tongue out at the reader while clutching a stuffed toy. She’s yelling on the next spread in the middle of a crowd of people, who all have the same pink skin. It’s her party, and she’ll yell if she wants to, is the gist of the story from this point until the last few pages. Throughout, everyone else is remarkably patient and unbothered by her bad behavior, and the text eschews verbal responses or omniscient narration. Expressive, gestural illustrations adopt a low visual perspective to emulate a child’s point of view and end up stealing the show. But even their success can’t smooth over the narrative gap when, on a pair of facing pages, the girl suddenly and resolutely changes her tune. “Go away!” she shouts on the verso; “No! Stay! Can you stay even if I hate you?” she says on the recto, reducing the book to spectacle rather than story. While perhaps true to life, this lightning-fast shift is unsatisfying, as it asks readers to accept her change of heart as passively as the long-suffering partygoers accepted her hatred.
Not for everyone. (Picture book. 3-6)