Thursday, September 23, 2021

Picture Book Review: How to Have a Birthday by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Cindy Derby (2021)

Quick Booktalk 

This poetic tribute to birthdays reflects on the many joys and traditions associated with the day.

About the Illustrations 

On the copyright page of this book, it says, "The illustrations were created on the road in a camper van with watercolor, pastels, coloring pencils, gouache, and a few sprinkles." Each page captures a different aspect of birthday celebrations, both the internal emotional experiences and the physical and social experiences that might occur during the day. Each page is really filled with light, which gives the book a very warm and cozy feeling 

Story Time Possibilities

This is a gentle read, and very pleasant. I would not hesitate to read it to my story time audience, which consists of my own kids and my friends' kids, and I think it will work in other small-group settings as well. It would work for a bunch of different themes: celebrations, birthdays and unbirthdays, traditions, the year, the calendar, etc. It would also be perfect to read aloud at a birthday party.

Readers Advisory

This book will definitely please fans of Mary Lyn Ray's other books, especially Stars and Christmas Farm. It has the same poignant outlook and sense of wonder as those earlier titles. It also has the same feel as a lot of Charlotte Zolotow's books, which had such a wonderful way of describing mundane childhood experiences in very interesting and engaging ways. Another obvious read-alike is Happy Birthday to You! by Dr. Seuss. I plan to give this book to my second daughter for her upcoming sixth birthday. 


I received a finished copy of How to Have a Birthday from Candlewick Press 

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