From School Library Journal
PreS-K–Otis and Sydney are two adorable bears who are best friends. It is Sydney's birthday and Otis throws a special surprise party inviting all of their friends. When no one shows up, Otis realizes that he wrote the wrong date on the invitations. Otis hides and surprises his friend anyway, and they spend the afternoon playing games and eating the large cake as planned. Saddened that he ruined his friend's birthday, Otis admits his mistake and Sydney reassures him that he had the best birthday ever because they spent it together. Numeroff‘s concise sentences create a smooth read-aloud that may also appeal to emerging readers. Muted digital, pen-and-ink illustrations help to define difficult vocabulary such as “accordion” and “harmonica” while evoking cuddly warmth in the bears' big, smiling faces. There are a number of picture books about friendship and birthday parties, including David McPhail's Big Brown Bear's Birthday Surprise (Harcourt, 2007), but this one does it with an old-fashioned innocence just right for little listeners.–Kristine M. Casper, Huntington Public Library, NY. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Books don’t come much cozier or any less threatening than this. Otis is a fuzzy little bear in green overalls. So is Sydney. Therefore, it will not shock the reader (though the bears are gobsmacked!) that they “soon discovered that they had much in common.” Best friends forever, Otis decides to throw Sydney a surprise birthday party. Out go the invites, in come the candles, and up go the balloons. A misprint on the invitations, however, prevents anyone from attending. Many a picture book has been predicated on the turmoil of a party gone wrong, but in Numeroff’s hands, the problem’s just a blip—Sydney is perfectly happy to celebrate with Otis, and celebrate they do. It’s a gentle lesson, though for some it will be too gentle, with Otis’ professed regret coming off as a bit inauthentic. The content and style of Andreasen’s pen, ink, and digital illustrations are resolutely old-fashioned, which fits well with Numeroff’s storytelling. There’s nothing earth-shattering in this comforting tale, but that is likely just what its creators intended. Preschool-Grade 1. --Daniel Kraus