Story by Cynthia Lord
Art by Derek Anderson
Published by Scholastic Press, 2011
Themes: hamsters, birthdays, friendship
Best day, bake day, candles on a cake day! Clap day, cheer day, party time is here day!
Before the title page, the reader is invited into a secret on the interior sleeve of the cover. A bold illustration of Dog saying, “You are invited to HAMSTER’s birthday party! But Shhhhhhh, it’s a surprise.” In rollicking rhyme we follow Hamster through his birthday and his growing disappointment that his best friend Dog appears to have forgotten. The best buds go down town as Dog has a few errands to run. But instead of cake at the bakery, Dog buys dog biscuits and at the toy store he selects a new ball for himself. They both spiff up at the barbers, but Hamster has no idea that Dog has been a decoy. Of course the final scenes are full of friendship and celebration and are a feast to the reader-in-the-know.
Why I like this book:
Small kids will adore the sense of power and anticipation they have in knowing with each page turn and downturn of Hamster’s smile, that all his friends are planning a huge surprise party. Derek Anderson fills each page with colorful critters and hints of what they are all up to. The text offers a great balance between rhyming pairs full of repetition and conversations between Dog and Hamster with speech bubbles, plus a refrain for the reader to answer. It is a zany celebration of birthdays and friendship for younger children, who will warm to this adorable pair of friends. It is a fun story full of energy, color and rhythm, where critters and text skip across the pages. It is a truly feel-good picture book. It is great for any birthday-themed story time.
- On many of the double spreads Cynthia Lord asks the reader the question, “What would you choose?” Time can be given to allow the readers to respond to this refrain.
- Children can pick their favorite pet/animal and plan a surprise party for them
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.