Using similar photographic treatment and subject matter developed in his earlier picture book, Peanut Butter and Cupcake (2014), Border follows the journey of the eponymous heroine in her search for the perfectly themed birthday party.
During a walk with her friend Muffin, she muses on the theme that would best suit all of her friends. A beach party is out, because “the beach is so hot, and some of us might get drippy.” A boat ride is risky too, because “if the ship rocks, Soup might lose his lunch.” Musical chairs would be dangerous because the softer friends might get squished. Moreover, Cupcake herself is ill-equipped to limbo. During the discussion, the friends arrive at Muffin’s house, where… “Surprise!!!” All the friends are gathered for a surprise party. Even though they do get drippy and a little squished, it is still the best birthday party that anyone can remember. As in his earlier picture book, Border’s characters are skillfully crafted food items with basic wire limbs arranged in simple landscapes. Visual puns abound: a pat of butter with wings attached (Butterfly, geddit?). There’s no stinting on the gross factor; everyone gets spilled and sticky in true toddler fashion; in one double-page spread, Hamburger’s frosting-and-sprinkles makeover is lovingly depicted.
Preschoolers will be delighted with the visual mayhem, although parents may cringe at the quantity of junk food depicted. (Picture book. 3-6)