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Sonderbooks Book Review of

The Meanest Birthday Girl

by Josh Schneider


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The Meanest Birthday Girl

by Josh Schneider

Review posted October 22, 2013.
Clarion Books, 2013. 48 pages.

Here’s an early chapter book where the point is not that it’s easy to read. The point is the clever and funny story. This one is worth reading even if you already read well.

It was Dana’s birthday and she could do whatever she liked.

Among the things she likes is not being very nice to Anthony.

So imagine her surprise when Anthony gives her a wonderful present, a big white elephant.

Dana was surprised that Anthony had gotten her a present. And such a wonderful present; she had always wanted an elephant. Dana would not have given a birthday present to someone who called her an ickaborse and pinched her and ate the dessert out of her lunch.

“Oh, my,” said Dana. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Happy birthday, Dana,” said Anthony. “Take good care of it.”

“Of course,” said Dana. She knew how important it is to take good care of one’s pets.

That’s the catch, of course. Taking care of the elephant proves to be a daunting task. Along the way, while she’s tired and frazzled from tending her elephant, Gertrude is mean to her. Turns out, though, that Gertrude’s birthday is coming up….

This story is wonderfully told, with the author not having to spell out the underlying emotions. The parallel construction when Dana gives the elephant away helps the reader fully understand all that is going on.

I wasn’t crazy about the art in this book, but by the time I finished, I laughed so hard, I knew I had to spread the word about this book. The Meanest Birthday Girl learns a lesson, and beginning readers will thoroughly enjoy being in on the joke.