Review of When's My Birthday?

When’s My Birthday?
by Julie Fogliano; illus. by Christian Robinson
Preschool   Porter/Roaring Brook    40 pp.
9/17    978-1-62672-293-4    $17.99

When it comes to young children, there is one day that supersedes all others: the birthday. Fogliano understands the singular focus children have for this day and captures that intensity by repeating the word birthday with a playful obsessiveness: “when’s my birthday? / where’s my birthday? / how many days until / my birthday?” Her rhythmic, stream-of-consciousness text (which displays a Ruth Krauss–like insight into the child psyche) makes this a strong read-aloud that invites the reader to practically sing the words. Robinson mixes his signature cut-paper and paint style with some more photo-collage elements — pictures of actual sandwiches, real string, etc. — giving the illustrations an added layer of texture. In them an eclectic cast of characters, both human and animal, joins in the unbearable anticipation — imagining the presents, the party guests, the food (including the all-important birthday cake) — before arriving at the big day itself: “happy happy! / hee! hee! hee! / time for cakey / wakey wakey / happy happy day to me!” The unique trim size conjures the look of a birthday card: with its tall, thin dimensions, you almost expect a crisp dollar bill to be tucked between the pages.

From the September/October 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


Minh Lê
Minh Lê
Minh Lê is the author of Drawn Together, illustrated by Dan Santat, and Let Me Finish!, illustrated by Isabel Roxas. He blogs about children's literature at Bottom Shelf Books and writes and reviews for a variety of publications, including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and The Horn Book Magazine. He served on the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee.

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