I ordered this book for two reasons: 1. The school library can always use good picture books about birthdays for parents to read on their child’s “Special Day.” And 2. I loved the look of it. I know. Not the best way to make purchasing decisions, but books can always be returned. As it turns out, there is no need to print a return label for this one. My hunch paid off – The Best Birthday Party Ever by Jennifer LaRue Huget is a keeper.
I read it as soon as I unpacked it, and ten minutes later a class of 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students arrived in the library. I had no doubt they would love it, but I had to get past the cover first. If you work with children this age, you’ll know what I mean. I expected and received, a few moans and groans from a few of the 3rd grade boys. Given this book’s bright pink cover and the little girl wearing a tiara, this was to be expected. No problem. I knew if we could move through that, things could only improve. I began with reminding them not ” judge a book by its cover.” But knew I needed more. So…I told the students that I was going to read them a brand new, fresh-out-of-the-box story and needed their input. I asked them to listen to the story and then rank it between 1 and 10 – 10 being the best. I read the story and then asked for their votes. We started with 10 and the Olympic-style scores only got higher from then. Every student – even the moaners – said “100” or “ten zillion” or “infinity and beyond.” Since I had heard them laughing all the way through, I was never concerned about their verdict.
The Best Birthday Party Ever is about a little girl who begins planning her birthday party exactly “5 months, 3 weeks, 2 days, and 8 hours” before the big day. Throughout the book, her plans for her party get, to quote her parents, “a little bit out of hand.” But, although she imagines a 17-layer cake and not one, but two magicians at her party, she is never in danger of being unlikeable. I asked the kids about this, and, a third grade girl hit it spot on. “We like her because at the end of the story, she appreciates the party she actually has,” she said. If you have a birthday girl – or boy – in your life, keep this one in mind.