Skip to main content

Happy Birthday, Cupcake! by Terry Border

Ever since I read Bread and Jam for Frances (you can read my review/tribute here) as a small child, I have been drawn to picture books with food themes - or characters. In light of this, I have no idea how I missed Terry Border's first book last year, Peanut Butter and Cupcake but I did the chance to read Happy Birthday, Cupcake, which combines one of my favorite picture book themes, food, with another of my favorites - birthdays!

There are a lot of things I love about Happy Birthday, Cupcake, but I have to start by pointing out two notable accomplishments on Border's part. First, he has written a great picture book about a birthday. I have spent 20+ years seeking out quality picture books with  birthday themes and they are (very) few and far between. Probably because it is hard to write a great story about someone having a birthday. Beyond the  uniqueness and the humor found in Border's illustrations, the story of Cupcake planning her party is solid. Cupcake and Muffin try to plan the perfect party that will make everyone happy as they walk Cupcake's dog, a mini-eclair. Cupcake suggests a beach party, but Muffin points out the fact that it's hot at the beach and some friends (Chocolate Bar) might get drippy. A makeover party sounds like a great idea - and makes for a fantastic two page spread - but is ditched when Muffin, notes that Hamburger might not like getting frosted and sprinkled. A live band and a rousing game of musical chairs is ruled out when Muffin alerts Cupcake to the dangers of being sat on and squished in the heat of the game.

Another superb and not-so-common thing in picture books is humor. Terry Border is a very funny guy with a great sense of humor that he is able to translate to the page. Using food, tiny objects, crisp backgrounds and wire limbs for anthropomorphization in Happy Birthday, Cupcake, Border creates engaging, hilarious scene after scene, with much of the humor coming from word play. For the musical chairs party, Border conjures up a band named "The Musical Fruit" who happen to consist of cans of beans that play horns. When Soup loses his lunch on the boat party scenario, his alphabet noodles spell out and apology on the deck. Every page offers something beyond the text that is a treat to pore over.

The end to Happy Birthday, Cupcake, which  brings a sweet resolution to the party problem, is  also perfectly festive. Happy Birthday, Cupcake is definitely a book I would give as a birthday gift and one that I will be pulling off the shelf again and again to read out loud. 

Terry Border's first book, 
Peanut Butter & Cupcake

Another fantastically fun thing that Border cooked up: Your Favorite Children's Books Guest Starring . . . Peanut Butter!

A few more instances of Border's genius:

And my favorite - book and visual - from Wiry Limbs, Paper Backs: A Room with a View.

Finally, while making muffins for my family I thought I'd try a little food scene of my own. I thought it would be easy but it's NOT! I guess I didn't come up with a good enough narrative or visual joke. The best I could do was Muffin meeting the Robots and being given a lollipop...

Source: Review Copy


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…