Happy Birthday to Me

Groundwood. Apr. 2023. 44p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781773068725.
PreS-K–Lam’s literal take on the emotional roller-coaster that is a birthday in the life of a young child is rooted in “I am.” “I am impatient,” “I am sad,” “I am jealous,” “I am excited,” “I am...not feeling so well (after eating a large piece of cake),” are just a few of the expressions that take readers along on the journey of chaos, curiosity, shyness at being the center of attention, and more. Cut-outs of the child, with construction-paper brown skin and black hair, create dynamic displays of these emotions, and her diverse peer group, wearing hijab, using a wheelchair, with glasses, without glasses, contribute to the celebration that opens on a hilarious calendar markdown of days to the event (the day after is marked as “365 days to...”).
VERDICT Lam, as usual, has a finger on the pulse of a child’s life, and this self-centric version is absolutely spot-on in corralling just how important a birthday is to a preschooler.

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