by Natasha Wing and Amy Wummer, illustrator
Grosset & Dunlap (Penguin Group) January 15, 2014
Age 4 to 8 32 pages
“’Twas the night before my birthday. Hooray! It’s almost here! It may not be a holiday, but it’s the best day of the year. The invitations have been sent, the decorations have been hung, and the cake is ready. But what happens when there is an ice cream emergency on the big day? Fortunately, Dad comes to the rescue, and the birthday party is the best one yet!”
A young child will have a birthday celebration the next day. Balloons are blown up along with other decorations. The young child goes off to bed, where sweet birthday dreams fill the night. In the morning, all refreshed and ready to celebrate, the child greets the parents for breakfast. In an hour, the birthday party would begin. Mom and Dad are setting the table with party napkins and plates. Dad retrieves three gallons of ice cream—vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry—ready for a room full of small tummies to devour.
Oh, no! The kitty gets under foot and dad’s feet fly out from under him, sending him to the floor with a thump. Ice cream becomes a free-for-all and the kitty laps it up. With no more in the freezer, dad smiles and goes out for more, taking the birthday child with him. As fast as he can, dad grabs more ice cream and the two head back home. They arrive to a quiet house. Strange. Dad opens the door and a room full of friends shout, “Surprise!” The party has started.
The story is another in Natasha Wing’s The Night Before . . . series. This is the first I have seen, so I cannot say if this is part of all the books, but in The Night Before My Birthday, the age and sex of the young child cannot be determine. Because of this, any young child can place themselves in the story as the star. I like that. Books that young children can relate to will help make them readers and, hopefully, lifelong readers. It appears the entire The Night Before . . . series can achieve this important goal.
The illustrations use the entire page, filling them with colorful decorations, a cute kitty, birthday cards, presents, and all sorts of party items. There are fun and happy scenes on each spread. I think the lines are meant to mimic the meter and tone of The Night Before Christmas and at times it perfectly does this, but most of the time not. I do like the rhyming though my tongue did trip every now and again. The lines possess a nice singsong effect.
Young children will love this book, especially when their special day comes around. They will look to the book and decide they want balloons, streamers, and a banner even when not knowing what those items are. But if the stuff is part of The Night Before My Birthday, it will be important to the young child.
This paperback picture book is charming. Parents will like it as well as their children. The Night Before My Birthday can add laughter, reading, and a bit more joy into any young child’s birthday. Since the star can be any young boy or girl, it would be nice to have a “This belongs to me; I am [blank] years old today” area at the front of the book. Even without, young children and their parents will enjoy The Night Before My Birthday. Personally, I love the surprise ending and all of the children’s happy, smiling faces.
Learn more about The Night Before . . . series HERE.
Learn more about the publisher, Grosset & Dunlap: imprint
THE NIGHT BEFORE MY BIRTHDAY. Text copyright © 2014 by Natasha Wing. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Amy Wummer. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Grosset & Dunlap, New York, NY.