Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Putnam, 9781524741549, 2019
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
What did you like about the book? Sometimes I’ve just had it with earnest, well-meaning books that teach important lessons. Or smart-aleck tongue-in-cheek books that are really written for adults. Then a book like this comes along and helps me re-set my gauges. I’m pretty sure any kid between the ages of 2 and 8 would enjoy this book, with its anticipatory countdown, slightly naughty humorous asides and rollicking, colorful animal illustrations. It’s fun, sweet without being cloying and would be perfect to read in the days leading up to a birthday. Part of the fun is that the rules are so flexible that clearly nothing can’t be modified to fit the circumstances. So if you’re an insect that only lives for a month or a day, get cracking and don’t wait a year! If you’re a sea urchin or a swordfish, you might want to skip the balloons. You can celebrate with whatever food seems right to you (try churros instead of cake!) But you MUST make a wish (I loved how many children in this two-page spread seemed to wish for books…) and you must keep it secret and dream that it will come true. The type is wonderfully and organically distributed around the page, and Lichtenheld’s expressive pencil and pen-and-ink illustrations contain so much movement and joy that he manages to convey all the raucous fun of a five-year-old’s party with none of the post-sugar meltdown.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No — great book.
To whom would you recommend this book? There are surprisingly few picture books about birthday parties, so I think this is a must purchase for any library. It could be a great classroom tradition to read on each child’s birthday.
Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries. Goes without saying that it would be a great book to buy for a grandchild!
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes. Too much fun to miss!
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: February 24, 2019