A nice selection for any collection and, of course, an excellent birthday present.

THE BACKWARDS BIRTHDAY PARTY

What if birthdays were backward?

A young Caucasian boy wakes up ready to celebrate his birthday only to find that time is moving backward. As the fanciful refrain says, they are, “[a]t the backwards birthday party, / where everything’s out of whack. / The backwards birthday party! / The partyday birthwards back.” A bouncing, jovial rhyme describes the reversed sequencing as the story moves forward—er, backward. The sun sets, the animals say goodbye, and then they enter the house in a most perplexing manner. Colorful, appealing illustrations portray the boy and his animal friends with just the right amount of detail as they eat cake first thing (hurray!) and the boy wraps presents and hands them out to each animal. The boy’s parents watch, flummoxed, as confusion and backward behavior abound. With the exception of a sentence that reads oddly (it begins at the bottom of the page and moves up), all is smooth and silly here. Youngsters will giggle along with this lighthearted selection as they relish all the important moments that birthdays bring and learn about sequencing and time in an enjoyable way.

A nice selection for any collection and, of course, an excellent birthday present. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6798-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

SLUG IN LOVE

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A lovely story of giving and community founded in Nigerian culture. Delectable.

THANK YOU, OMU!

Omu makes a stew so delicious everyone in the neighborhood follows their noses to her door.

Omu (which means “queen” in Igbo—Omu is black) is making a “thick red stew in a big fat pot” for her dinner. She tastes it, saying it’ll be the most delicious supper she’s ever had, while out the window drifts the scent of the “scrumptious” stew until it reaches a little boy. The story is peppered with synonyms for “scrumptious” (itself repeated throughout), allowing readers the chance to discuss and expand vocabulary. When the little boy follows the smell to Omu’s door, she kindly offers to share her stew with him. So begins a veritable parade of neighborhood residents who, led by the smell, end up at Omu’s door. The collage art adds texture, depth, and distinctiveness to each character. Omu shares her thick red stew with all and receives grateful thanks in reply. Alas, when Omu looks for her own supper, she finds her pot empty. The expressive illustrations convey her despondency as she answers yet another knock at her door to find…that the multiracial neighbors she shared with are back! This time, they have gifts in hand and are ready to make her a wonderful supper, which turns into another shared meal and a dance party.

A lovely story of giving and community founded in Nigerian culture. Delectable. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-43124-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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