The decorations and treats may differ, but two things are vital for a proper birthday celebration: good friends and the perfect birthday wish. With the-more-the-merrier themes, Hoo Hoo Who? and Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish are original and clever tales that leave everyone feeling invited.
Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish by author Beth Ferry and illustrator Tom Lichtenheld offers resourceful birthday tips and tricks for nailing the perfect celebration, no matter who you are. Both sincere and hilarious, the rules encompass everything from when to celebrate (short-lived insects should party straightaway), to how to blow out a candle (spit-prone camels should seek assistance). Clever asides, such as a tongue-in-cheek “pin-the-stinger-on-the-human” game, keeps readers engaged and scanning the page for laughs. Several party fails provide hilarious exceptions to the rules (i.e. spiny animals vs. balloons).
From page one, Ferry and Lichtenheld capture their audience by encouraging young readers to count along. Boldly and cheerfully illustrated, every page is visually appealing with soft colors. Text alternatively pops and shrinks, keeping readers engaged and looking for the occasional tiny footnote and aside. A conversational, confident tone makes for an easy and amusing read aloud. Inviting and funny, Ten Rules for the Birthday Wish doesn’t take itself too seriously. But despite the mirth, one cannot deny that every page carries an underlying and earnest wish for your birthday joy.
Hoo Hoo Who? begins with a surprise party, thrown by Owl, that is in full swing. But since the farsighted Owl has broken his glasses, he may need help welcoming his party guests. Aimed at a slightly younger audience, author-illustrator Mary Maier and author Lauren Horton’s picture book encourages little readers to predict which animal is next on Owl’s guest list. With detailed clues about the guests’ physical appearances and movements, even the youngest listeners can join in the guessing. Before the last guest arrives, however, there is one more surprise for the blurry-eyed Owl.
Maier’s text has a rhythm that lends itself to read-alouds and inspires participation with owl hoots and other animal sounds. And here’s a preschool party tip: have your little party-goers pretend to be each animal as they arrive. Educators will enjoy that Horton, who is also a speech pathologist, includes links for incorporating this book into educational settings.
Maier illustrates with bold lines, quick dashes and spatters of paint, which echo the excitement—and slight frenzy—of a surprise party. (Or perhaps someone looking through broken glasses?) With large, vibrant illustrations and extreme animal close-ups, Hoo Hoo Who? is friendly and energetic. Seeing “you” written on the guest list brings this party even closer to the reader.
Clever and amusing departures from more solemn birthday gift books, Hoo Hoo Who? and Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish charmingly leave no birthday boy, girl, animal, bird or bug behind.