My oldest daughter helps me with reading and reviewing middle grade books, and I wanted to be able to include my twins in my reading and blogging. They are strong readers, and they read independently every night, but I want to be able to read with them.
I have decided to start with the Best Book Club Ever Books. Do you remember them? They were published in the late 1970s-early 1980s. I’m not sure where they came from- maybe the grocery store? I remember loving them when I was a child, and my husband had all the books too. When my oldest daughter was much smaller, my in-laws brought us a box full of them. They had been languishing in the attic (the books, not my in-laws) for years, but they were in perfect condition.
The first book that I chose to read to my twins was Happy Birthday Oliver. This picture book, written by Pierre Le-Tan, was originally published in 1978. This is the story of an anthropomorphic dog named Oliver, who is very excited about his upcoming birthday. But when he wakes up on the big day, his parents don’t acknowledge his birthday. He mopes around so despondently that he gets a pity present from his teacher: a beautiful peacock feather. Did everyone really forget his birthday or is there a surprise waiting for him at home?
The illustrations are bright and colorful. Le-Tan has a very unique style, and things are surprisingly realistic, considering that we are dealing with an anthropomorphic dog. There’s one particular illustration with nine small pictures in a 3×3 grid, and this is my favorite. When my oldest daughter was around three years old, this was one of her favorite books. She used to love naming all the things in the pictures.
My girls liked this story. They were very concerned for Oliver when he was wandering around in his malaise phase because everyone had forgotten his birthday. There’s a picture where he almost gets hit by a car, and they pointed out that Oliver needed to be more careful. It was very fun reading this book to them for the first time because they didn’t know whether or not anybody would remember Oliver’s birthday.
I would absolutely recommend Happy Birthday Oliver. This book is out of print, but it seems like there are plenty of used copies floating around. This is a sweet story about celebrating birthdays, and reading it to my girls filled me with nostalgia.