Happy Birthday, Alice Babette
Happy Birthday, Alice Babette
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Annotation: Deciding to enjoy her birthday in spite of her friend Gertrude forgetting it, Alice spends a delightful day in Paris, where she rides the carousel and watches a puppet show, unaware that Gertrude is cooking up a special birthday surprise for her.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #119136
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Copyright Date: 2016
Edition Date: 2016
Illustrator: Leng, Qin,
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-554-98820-9
ISBN 13: 978-1-554-98820-4
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2016286507
Dimensions: 27 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
On Alice's birthday, she decides to have a day of adventure. Her friend, Gertrude, doesn't seem to remember that it's a special day, so Alice sets out alone, enjoying a ride on a carousel, watching a puppet show, and even foiling a jewel thief! Meanwhile, Gertrude has not forgotten Alice's birthday. Her ideas of making a special dinner and writing a birthday poem, however, do not work out as planned. Gertrude is a writer, you see, and when she thinks more about the poem than the food, disaster occurs in the kitchen. In the end, it is Alice who ends up cleaning and cooking, but she still enjoys her poem and her party. Even though most children won't recognize the story's main characters, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, they'll very likely still read the book as a friendship story, laughing at Gertrude's ineptitude and appreciating Alice's good humor. An author's note provides historical background. The cartoonish, fine-lined ink illustrations, colored digitally in saturated but lightweight tones, capture the sunny energy of a Paris springtime.
Kirkus Reviews
When Alice Babette wakes up on her birthday, she's certain "it will be a day filled with surprises." Unfortunately, the first is that her best friend, Gertrude, with whom she lives, doesn't wish her a happy birthday. It improves from there, as Alice wanders through Paris, riding a merry-go-round and watching a puppet show in the Luxembourg Gardens. Meanwhile, readers see that Gertrude is not as hardhearted as she seemed: she spends the day marketing for and preparing a grand birthday dinner for her friend and composing a birthday poem. Alas, Alice is the cook in this family, and all of Gertrude's good intentions can't turn her into one, particularly when the muse beckons. Kulling's affectionate look at one fictional day in Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein's life together is as rambling as her subjects' separate peregrinations. Stein's experimental writing is alluded to (only Alice "seem[s] to understand or appreciate her friend's work"); the story's focus is on the loving, complementary relationship between the two women—indeed, the pair feels like many a children's-literature duo: Mouse and Mole, Frog and Toad, and George and Martha come to mind. Leng's delicate watercolors depict two middle-aged white women in frumpy skirts, Gertrude stockier than Alice and with close-cropped hair. Her images of Paris, the women's old-fashioned kitchen, and their poodle, Basket, charm. A rose is a rose, and loving friendship is loving friendship, as this sweet celebration makes clear. (Picture book. 5-8)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3 Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein lived famously at 27 rue de Fleurus in Paris, entertaining and encouraging writers and artists from Ernest Hemingway to Pablo Picasso. Their loving partnership lasted nearly 40 years; while Stein (who was inept in the kitchen) wrote, Toklas cooked and kept home (and later penned a cookbook). In this fictionalized account of a birthday fête, Stein plans to surprise Toklas with a "special dinner" and celebratory poem. As Toklas spends the day strolling about the Luxembourg Gardens, stopping for a carousel ride and a puppet show, Stein shops for the groceries. Disaster ensues when, as the "pot lids tap-dance" on the stove, "the perfect line" for the poem pops into Stein's head, and off she races to write it down. But all's well that ends well: Toklas returns home, tidies up, and makes her renowned brownies; Stein's poem is written; her adventure in the kitchen becomes a story; and friends arrive for dinner, arms laden with food and gifts. Leng's watercolor artfull of fluid line, amusing detail, and movementis framed by the white backgrounds it rests against. Interior and exterior scenes are comprised of spot-art groupings or span spreads. Pastels predominate, but there's always a splash of redawnings, a rug, a potto draw the eye. VERDICT It's unlikely that the book's audience will have heard of this couple, but no matter; a birthday surprise upturned and righted is always cause for delight. Daryl Grabarek , School Library Journal
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (3/1/16)
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal (2/1/16)
Reading Level: 2.0
Interest Level: K-3
Lexile: AD620L

It's Alice's birthday! But her friend Gertrude seems to have forgotten. No matter, Alice goes out and enjoys her day just the same. A beautiful spring afternoon in Paris -- what could be better? Little does she know that her dear friend has a few surprises up her sleeve. While Alice spends the day walking around Paris -- riding a carousel in the park and watching a puppet show -- Gertrude turns her attention to the kitchen. She is determined to make a lavish dinner with all of Alice's favorite things and write a poem to match the occasion. But the lure of the perfect poetic line proves to be too distracting, and just as Alice's day takes an exciting and unexpected turn, Gertrude's big dinner falls all to pieces. The poem turns out beautifully, of course, but the house is a bit of a mess. It's a good thing Alice doesn't mind cleaning up. And that she has such a good brownie recipe for their guests. Inspired by the lives of artist Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Monica Kulling's warm and whimsical narration is perfectly balanced by Qin Leng's bright and energetic illustrations. This is a sweetly joyful story of love, friendship and creative inspiration.

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