Sunday, January 26, 2020

Review - Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish

Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish
by Beth Ferry
illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Date: 2019
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 48
Format: e-book
Source: library

A joyful picture book that celebrates every kid's favorite day of the year, full of adorable art from the illustrator of Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site and I Wish You More.

The most important rule is #1: It must be your birthday.

After that's been established, a crew of hilarious animals help picture book pros Tom Lichtenheld and Beth Ferry take readers through a joyous romp that covers the most important elements of every year's most essential holiday, including singing; closing your eyes and making a wish; blowing out candles on a cake, then settling into bed and dreaming of your wish coming true.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This book has a cute premise and amusing illustrations, but in the wrong hands, it could be a recipe for disappointment. Why? Because it could make kids think they're entitled to a birthday party with fancy desserts, decorations, lots of friends, and loud singing... all of which are deemed absolutely necessary for making the birthday wish. So if your parents don't have the means to throw you a party and/or you don't have any friends, you're out of luck. No wishes for you.

This could've worked if the tone hadn't been so... authoritative. But there's no room for improvising to fit realistic needs. Showing kids that they could've had a proper birthday wish if only they'd followed all these rules to the letter (when some of them might not have been possible given economic, social, or even medical reasons) seems a bit cruel.

The illustrations are fun, and there are cute little touches throughout. But I just don't like the "all or nothing" attitude this book espouses. The only way to make a birthday wish, according to this book, is to follow all of its rules. Let's try not to taunt kids with things that they--for whatever reason--might not be able to have.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.67 out of 5

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