Let’s Read Three: Birthday Books!

April is a crazy fun birthday month for us nowadays. Both my daughters were born in April so this month has proven to be particularly festive. What a perfect occasion for a book grouping and I am particularly fond of these three. The first is newer and by a current illustrator obsession of mine, the second is one of our oldest’s very favorite books and was also one of my husband’s favorite childhood books, and the third was one of my favorite childhood books. I love when books stay around like that. We tend to think books are a part of our lives, but sometimes, we are just a part of theirs!

Come join the party and read three books celebrating birthdays!

1. Happy Birthday, Bunny! by Liz Garton Scanlon bio, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin, 2013

Happy Birthay Bunny

Last summer, I discovered and fell in love with illustrator Stephanie Graegin’s style. We have a couple books with art by her, but this one I specifically grabbed at the library for the month of April. The story is about a little girl bunny who is celebrating her third birthday, and as seems to be the case in the early years of life, all the festivities are still new and so curious to her. The text by Liz Garton Scanlon is light and full of many questions by the bunny followed by simple answers most likely from her parents. It is a sweet book that can serve as an introduction or reminder of all the fun things that surround a birthday celebration.

I particularly love Graegin’s style because she includes lovely patterns. The wallpaper, the presents, the clothing… all swoon-worthy designs that are subtle and add depth to the illustrations. While this book probably leans more heavily towards younger readers, especially those celebrating their third birthday, it is still sweet for any who just love thinking about birthdays and I found it particularly special to read as a parent reminiscing and discussing birthdays with our little ones.

2. Beth’s Happy Day by Phyllis Ochocki, illustrated by Patti Fenwick, 1966.

Beth's Happy Day

This little Elf book has received much love in our family. Starting with my husband as a little boy who is rumored to have requested it hundreds of times, my daughter actually discovered it on her own amidst our many books and quickly favorited it as well. I still can’t quite understand the book’s incredible appeal, except that the older, thoroughly detailed and almost mundanely written books tend to be well-loved among detail-loving toddlers.

The story is very sweet, beginning with little Beth awaking on the morning of her fifth birthday and feeling extremely happy. She longs to share such happy feelings with everyone and decides to secretly spread the love through small deeds around her neighborhood. This book is most definitely written in the 60s considering her amazing freedom to roam the streets while her mother works around the house. Her kindness and child-like ideas for sharing are wonderful to enjoy and the ending when everyone surprises her with a simple birthday celebration is purely delightful!

3. Xavier’s Birthday Surprise! by Ari Hill, 1987.

Xavier's Birthday Surprise

This colorful Little Golden Book was one of my treasured books from childhood. Probably every child of the 80s is familiar with the Cabbage Patch Kids and the illustrations of them here are just marvelous. (Unfortunately, I cannot find illustrator info for this book. If anyone knows, I would love to find out.)

The book opens with the Cabbage Patch Kids having a meeting to discuss their friend Xavier’s upcoming birthday. One of the Kids, Sybil Sadie, has an idea to have a talent show for him and everyone starts to plan their act of singing, dancing, silly things and more. It is an exciting time as the Kids all prepare their unique acts, until Sybil Sadie decides they have to have auditions and she gets to decide whose act is good enough. She gets bossier and bossier and the show begins to fall apart until Xavier happens to come by and hears about the mess. He tenderly helps solve the problem without injuring feelings and Sybil Sadie learns a little lesson about being bossy. The Cabbage Patch Kids finally put on a great show for Xavier’s birthday complete with that fabulous watermelon-shaped cake, my positively favorite scene as a kid. It is a great 80s classic about birthdays and especially being kind and in charge without being bossy.

Birthdays are such fun to celebrate, I love finding books that add excitement and different twists on a beloved time in every child’s life. Thanks for sharing in our birthday month’s reading. Happy April to you!

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