Today’s my birthday, so I thought I’d give a week of birthday book cheer. Who doesn’t enjoy a great book for their birthday or reading about their day? And just one day is too few to celebrate.
Happy Birthday to You!
Written and Illustrated by Dr. Seuss
Published August 12, 1959 by New York: Random House
This delightful Dr. Seuss book takes place in the town of Katroo where they sure know how to celebrate each birthday. Katroo is the only place with the Great Birthday Bird who awakes the birthday person and takes on a journey to enjoy their special day. Along the journey, they enjoy hot dogs rolled on a spool, pick the fanciest pet, greeted by Drummers and Strummers at the Birthday Pal-alace, and eat the only birthday cake made of guaranteed certified strictly Grade-A peppermint cucumber sausage-paste butter! (I’m not sure I’d like to taste that cake.) Happy Birthday to You! is slow at times, but it’s a fun book that’s sure to make you smile.
Today you are you! That is truer than true!
There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
Shout loud, “I am lucky to be what I am!
Thank goodness I’m not just a clam or a ham
Or a dusty old jar of sour gooseberry jam!
I am what I am! That’s a great thing to be!
If I say so myself, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
- Dr. Seuss (Happy Birthday to You!)
Day 1 Birthday Book Celebration!
Rhyme Time Valentine
Written and Illustrated by Nancy Poydar
Published August 28, 2002 by Holiday House
Ages: 6-8, 32 pages
Ruby loves Valentine’s Day and spends time making the perfect Valentine’s Day card with a special rhyme for her classmates. She lightly teases other students’ cards, since she can make perfect hearts and has already finished. She plans to wear all red on Valentine’s Day. Finally, on Valentine’s Day she bundles up for the cold weather and takes her homemade cards to school. However, the strong wind causes the cards to fly out of the bag. She arrives at school upset, but decides to make Valentine’s Day cards with the supplies in the classroom yet there’s no more red paper. She remembers the candy hearts from her parents and gives them to her classmates. Ruby learns that cards don’t need to be perfect, instead it’s the message that counts.
Rhyme Time Valentine is a sweet book with rhymes. If you’d like to remember making Valentine’s cards and passing them out to mailboxes in class then you’ll enjoy this book.
Written and Illustrated by Rob Scotton
Published December 1, 2008 by Harper Collins
Splat is in love with a special cat in class named Kitten. Splat has problems, since his tummy always seems to rumble when Kitten is near. He’s not even sure if Kitten likes him, because she always pulls his ears, pokes his belly, calls him smelly, and then runs away. Splat is puzzled, but takes his special Valentine to school. The cats exchange their cards at school, but Splat decides to wait until after recess. Another cat, Spike, sees Splat’s Valentine card to Kitten then states that he also likes her. Splat and Spike proclaim each likes Kitten more. Finally, Splat sees Spike’s card to Kitten and feels awful because the card is bigger. Splat throws his card in the trash, but doesn’t realize that Kitten found the card and read it. Inside is a simple message: ‘I Like You.’ Splat also receives a Valentine’s Day card from Kitten with a poem and three little words: ‘I Like You’. I thought this was an adorable Valentine’s Day book. The book is humorous and sweet. Rob Scotton wrote other Splat the Cat books.
Love, Ruby Valentine
Written by Laurie Friedman
Illustrated by Avril Cravath
Published June 15,2006 by Lerner Publishing Group
Ages: 6+, 32 pages
Ruby Valentine’s favorite day is Valentine’s Day, since she loves telling everyone ‘I Love You’ and it’s the perfect fit for her name. Ruby Valentine lives in Heartland and even her bird is named Lovebird. She has big plans to celebrate for the entire town. Ruby Valentine bakes heart cookies and cake, makes glitter Valentine’s cards, and puts ribbons around goody bags. After counting down days she’s now exhausted and sleeps to prepare for the next day. However, when Ruby Valentine finally awakes it’s now February 15th. She feels awful that she’s missed Valentine’s Day and sadly puts things away for next year, but Lovebird peeps that they can still deliver the goods to town. Ruby Valentine is afraid that the people in Heartland will be upset, but she’s pleasantly surprised when the people rejoice as she shares her treats. Now Ruby Valentine tells people she loves them all year and each card is signed ‘Love, Ruby Valentine’. The entire book is written in a cute rhyme.
Ruby loved to say, “I Love you,” and she loved to say, “Be mine,” and she loved to sign her hearts and cards…Love, Ruby Valentine.
Laurie Friedman (Love, Ruby Valentine)
Tara & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends
Written by Carol Buckley
Photographs by Carol Buckley
Published: 2009 by Putnam Juvenile
All Ages, 32 pages
Topics: friendship, animals
If you haven’t already heard about this unlikely friendship then this will surely make you smile, even though there’s a sad mention in this post. Tarra performed in the circus as the only roller skating elephant. In 1995, Tarra came to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Unlike a zoo where animals remain in cages, the elephants in the wildlife sanctuary roam freely throughout 2,700 acres. All the elephants except for Tarra found an elephant companion. However, that changed when Tarra awoke to find a stray dog next to her. Soon Tarra and Bella went everywhere together. One day, a caregiver found Bella injured in the grass and was taken to the vet. It was unsure whether Bella would be able to walk again, since she had a spinal cord injury. Every day Tarra remained in the same spot waiting for her friend and finally searched to find Bella. Tarra waited outside for her friend while Bella rested. When Bella discovered that Tarra was outside, she attempted to run to the window. Finally, the caretakers realized that the two desperately wanted to see each other so they carried Bella to reunite with Tarra. Tarra welcomed Bella with gentle elephant trunk pets. Tara returned each day until Bella was well enough to roam. Sadly, Bella died in October 2011. The friendship between an elephant and dog prove that we can look beyond any differences and understand each other. The back of the book provides information about the Elephant Sanctuary.
The Elephant Sanctuary Information
by Suzanne Williams, illustrated by Steven Kellogg
Ages 6 & up, 32 pages
Since the time she was born, Lil loved to read and had a wild imagination. When she was eight, she read all the books in the children’s room at the library. Lil was also very powerful as she held heavy encyclopedias with one hand while turning the pages with her teeth. Of course, she became the librarian and the town nicknamed her Library Lil. However, there was a problem because people in Chesterville were not readers and their only entertainment was watching television. Lil’s luck turned during a terrible storm that caused the power to be out for two weeks. Library Lil quickly came to the rescue with books to read, which created active readers in Chesterville. The library was the place to be for story time. A motorcycle gang entered town and Bust-’em-up Bill demanded a television to watch his wrestling show. He was disappointed when he learned that the town didn’t watch television anymore and was told to chat with the librarian. Well, Library Lil’s strength and enthusiasm helped make the motorcycle gang become readers.
José Feliciano’s Feliz Navidad
written and illustrated by David Diaz
song lyrics by José Feliciano
All Ages, 28 pages
I was excited when I discovered this book at the library, since “Feliz Navidad” is one of my favorite Christmas Songs. (Go ahead and click the video to listen while you read.) In the book, José Feliciano’s Feliz Navidad the reader almost sings along as the lyrics are slowly written on the pages. José Feliciano was born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York at a young age. He wrote “Feliz Navidad” when he was homesick during the Christmas season. Feliciano was born blind, but that didn’t stop this songwriter who won six Grammy Awards with more than sixty-five albums. The book describes a parranda that is a Christmas tradition in Puerto Rico. A parranda is basically a caroling parade when neighbors and friends surprise each other from house to house with small instruments. The festive parade lasts hours and moves through the neighborhood with singing, dancing, and food. At the end, there is a huge feast and cookout often with a roasted pig that brings everyone together. The book was very colorful and festive, which is appropriate for such an upbeat Christmas song.
The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming, a Christmas Story
By Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Lisa Brown
Ages 6 & up, 24 pages
Lemony Snicket is most often recognized for his A Series of Unfortunate Events book series. This is a humorous story about a latke or a potato pancake eaten during the celebration of Hanukkah. The latke began screaming when it was heated in a pan full of oil. So what’s a toasted latke to now do? Well of course it then jumps out of the hot pan and out the window. It ran down the street past flashing Christmas lights who angrily shout that they are the ones to make cheer. The flashing lights believe he’s just hash browns, but the latke screams that it’s completely different. It then comes across a candy cane who’s upset that the screaming is spoiling the peppermint scent. The latke responds that its smell symbolizes the feeling of Hanukkah. The candy cane states that someone should write a Christmas carol about it. Of course, the latke screams that it’s not part of Christmas and it’s a completely different thing. The latke continues to scream until it stumbles into a forest. Finally, a family finds the latke and takes it home to eat for their Hanukkah dinner with applesauce and sour cream. The last pages explain that it’s sometimes difficult to be understood and makes you want to scream, but everything should be welcomed somewhere. The latke was welcome in a home where people understood it and fit perfectly during the Hanukkah celebration.
How Santa Got His Job
By Stephen Krensky, illustrated by S.D. Schindler
Ages 5 & up, 32 pages
Have you ever wondered how exactly Santa found his perfect job? His first job was a chimney cleaner, but nobody believed he did a good job since he never got dirty. He tried his luck at delivering the mail, but nobody enjoyed getting their mail late at night. He worked at a zoo and knew when the animals were awake or sleeping, but became too attached to the reindeer. Santa and the reindeer joined the circus, but he was having too much fun getting shot from a canon. Finally, Santa stumbled onto the perfect job when he met some elves. They made wonderful toys, but it was too difficult to deliver all the toys. Santa and his reindeer are up for this challenge in this delightful book that will surely make you smile.
How Santa Lost His Job
By Stephen Krensky, illustrated by S.D. Schindler
Ages 5 & up, 32 pages
Santa has his own system before getting ready on his big night. He checks the weather, carefully packs the sleigh, and feeds the reindeer. However, the elves believe that Santa is too slow and needs a better plan. So, one elf builds a replacement for Santa, which is machine called the Deliverator. Santa states that there’s more to his job, but trusts the elves since they make the toys. The elves have a contest between Santa and the Deliverator to determine which is faster and more productive. Santa and the Deliverator race to get ready, sort through the presents, and deliver presents down the chimney. Santa lost the contest, since he stops to eat the cookies and takes a long bubble bath before getting ready. However, situations occur when the elves need Santa to help save the busy night.
Three French Hens
by Margie Palatini, illustrated by Richard Egielski
Ages 6 & up, 36 pages
On the third day of Christmas a mademoiselle from Paris sent her true love three French hens, two turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree. However, there was a major problem with a smudged address because the hens never arrived to the true love. Colette, Poulette, and Fifi decide they will deliver themselves and find Monsieur Philippe Renard. They look in the New York City phone book and discover that they’re actually searching for Phil Fox. As you may have guessed, Phil Fox is a fox and hasn’t had a good meal in a month and has no friends. Phil Fox opens his door and sees his next meal. Before he realizes it, the French hens have bathed him, decorated his house, and cooked delicious food. Phil Fox feels somewhat guilty, because he’s not who they think he is and isn’t even French. Colette, Poulette, and Fifi don’t care at all and like their friend just as he is. Phil Fox is touched that the French hens consider him a friend. A great friendship forms between three French hens from Paris and Phil Fox from the Bronx.
Mrs. Greenberg’s Messy Hanukkah
by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Nancy Cote
Ages 6-9, 32 pages
Rachel is super excited to celebrate Hanukkah, but her parents remind her that it’s not time yet. Instead, Rachel decides to spread the holiday cheer and visits her neighbor, Mrs. Greensberg. Mrs. Greensberg’s house is always clean and she feels empty all by herself especially during Hanukkah. Rachel wants to make latkes, but Mrs. Greenberg reminds her that it takes work. They get to work, but it soon becomes a messy production as Rachel makes mistakes. As she grates the potatoes, Rachel’s pile falls off the floor. Rachel decides to help clean the mess and begins mopping the floor, but this creates another mushy mess. Mistakes continue, but they finally produce delicious latkes. Mrs. Greenberg never complains, since what’s a little mess between friends. I thought this was a delightful book about how an older woman and young girl celebrate Hanukkah together.
by Deborah da Costa, illustrated by Gosia Mosz
Ages 6 & up, 32 pages
Isobel visits her Aunt Luisa for a Hanukkah party and to celebrate the Hanukkah Moon. Aunt Luisa just returned from Mexico and displays ‘Feliz Januca’ for Happy Hanukkah and even has a piñata shaped like a dreidal. Isobel notices the unique menorah with animals. Aunt Luisa states that she made it and got the idea from her backyard friends, but there’s no animals when Isobel looks out the window. The first night Isobel receives a camera and Aunt Luisa teaches her photography. Aunt Luisa’s photography students celebrate the evening and she puts out fruits outside for special visitors. They learn about the moon celebration and Rosh Hodesh, which is the beginning of the month with a new moon that celebrates women who refused to give their gold to help build the idol of the golden calf at Mt. Sinai. Aunt Luisa takes everyone outside and they find animal visitors eating the fruit. Isobel asks where the Hanukkan Moon is in the sky, since she can’t find it. Aunt Luisa explains that the luna nueva or new moon faces away and will appear tomorrow night. Isobel leaves Aunt Luisa’s house with special memories that she shares with her family.
I thought Hanukkah Moon was a great book about positive family relationships, cultural elements, and learning about Hanukkah. The illustrations are colorful and highlight the story’s meaning.