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Oscar's Half Birthday Hardcover – May 10, 2005
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PreS-K. Graham, the author of Let's Get a Pup (2001), introduces a similarly unconventional family (both Mom and Dad wear their hair in braids), whose love for one another overflows the pages. The interracial family's star is Oscar; it's his half-year birthday. To celebrate, Oscar, his parents, and his older sister, Milly (complete with fairy wings made from hangers), head off to the park. The story ambles rather than actually takes off. The family crosses the bridge to the park. Traffic noise begins to drone, and birds can be heard. Once the blanket is down, Oscar attracts other picnickers with his cute looks, and everyone joins in a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday." Back at home, after baths, Milly falls asleep, knowing that her birthday will be next. More than in the events, the charm here lies in the ink-and-watercolor artwork, which highlights family close-ups and (literally) bird's-eye views of city life that subtly slide into a more bucolic setting. Equally important is the story's mood: the characters' happiness is contagious. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Bob Graham is the award-winning creator of many books for children, including JETHRO BYRD, FAIRY CHILD, winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal; "LET'S GET A PUP!" SAID KATE, a BOSTON GLOBE-HORN BOOK Award winner; MAX, a PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Best Book of the Year; and, most recently, TALES FROM THE WATERHOLE. Of OSCAR'S HALF BIRTHDAY, he says, "This book germinated from a perfect Sunday spent on London's Hampstead Heath looking at a birthday party close by. When the cake was produced and the well-known chorus began, the song caught like wildfire as most of the picnickers on the hillside joined in." Bob Graham currently lives in Australia.
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Top Customer Reviews
My daughter adores the illustrations, the story and the beautiful language. It has become our favorite gift to give friends with small children. I even read this story to a group of adults I was teaching....they were totally entranced.
Kudos to Bob Graham.
The mother, father, sister Millie, and baby Oscar go on a picnic. When the parents light a candle on Oscar’s cake, all the people in the park who have been admiring the baby, join in singing “happy birthday.” Millie wears fairy wings throughout the journey as the family enjoys such simple gifts as the wind in the trees, the roar of the train, and the sunshine in the park. The writing is, at times, pure poetry. “Oscar frowns in the dim light – six different expressions on his face in the time it takes a leaf to fall.” and “The wind carries their song up over the hill, out across the traffic, higher than churches and factories and apartment buildings. It’s sound falls gently over the city – so faint that, only dogs can hear it. And somewhere down there, the one who started all of this… the half-birthday boy, Oscar, sits tilted at an angle, his fingers curled into Millie’s tuna sandwich. His shoulders are hunched, his head nods, and the light shines through his ears, illuminating them like little lanterns.”
This is a story infused with gentle love. It would be a wonderful book to share with a child who has a tiny baby sister or brother.
The illustrations are soft watercolors, often two-page spreads. They are simple but engaging. The mother is of African descent and the father is of European descent. At the end, each parent is carrying a well-loved, sleepy child.
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