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Otis & Sydney and the Best Birthday Ever Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 1, 2010
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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
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But this year, Otis decides to throw a special birthday party for Sidney and invite all of their friends. So he mails the invitations, and then when the day arrives he decorates the house, makes a cake, and waits--and waits--and waits. However, when no one comes, he finally realizes that he got the date wrong on the invitations, and now it's too late to change anything. How will Sydney feel when he arrives and no one has come to his birthday party? And is there anything that Otis can do to make sure that Sydney still has the best birthday ever?
Anyone familiar with children's literature will recognize the name of author Laura Numeroff from her bestselling If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and other similar delightful books. Otis and Sydney and the Best Birthday Ever, having illustrations by Dan Andreasen done in pen and ink with digital coloring, is a lovely story of true friendship. Perhaps in a day when television and computers have bred in kids a desire always to expect the biggest and the grandest, young readers may be amazed at the simple surprise ending to the surprise birthday party.
Written by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustrated by Dan Andreasen and published by Abrams Books.
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