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Happy Birthday, Alice Babette Hardcover – April 12, 2016
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From 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 art—full of fluid line, amusing detail, and movement—is 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 red—awnings, a rug, a pot—to 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
"Leng’s (A Walk on the Shoreline) airy ink drawings bring just the right chic Parisian energy to this odd-couple story." Publishers Weekly
"A rose is a rose, and loving friendship is loving friendship, as this sweet celebration makes clear." Kirkus Reviews
"The cartoonish, fine-lined ink illustrations . . . capture the sunny energy of a Paris springtime." Booklist
"All . . . can enjoy Qin Leng's air ink and digital-color illustrations of April in Paris and the affectionately funny portrait of a legendary friendship." — The Horn Book
"Author Monica Kulling and illustrator Qin Leng invite the imagination into Gertrude and Alice’s world through a tender fictionalized day in the couple’s real life. … The sweetness and sincerity of their love rises above the language and radiates from the story itself." ― Brain Pickings
"[Happy Birthday, Alice Babette] give[s] kids a sense of what respect looks and feels like without ever resorting to the word itself." Quill & Quire
". . . the most palatable parts of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas’s lives provide rich inspiration for this charming story of friendship." Globe and Mail
". . . provides an enchanting glimpse into the Parisian life of the two women and their fondness for each other and life in general." CanLit for Little Canadians