Beth Ferry, author; Tom Litchenfield, illustrator
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2019
Beth Ferry is one of my favourite picture book authors, hands down. Her style is versatile but it’s her funny books that are my favourites. TEN RULES OF THE BIRTHDAY WISH is packed with literary devices such as internal rhyme, wordplay, and alliteration. The premise is simple and oozing with kid appeal–many children dream of their birthday party with cake, candles, and of course a birthday wish,
Ferry’s 10 rules cover the birthday basics (noting that there is beautifully no mention of presents); the humour lies in the exceptions to the birthday rules that exist in the animal world. For example, Rule #7 is to take a big breath . . . unless you’re a puffer fish, because “a puffed-up puffer fish is not a happy puffer fish.” Rule #9 is to blow out the candles . . . unless you are a camel, because “you will most likely spit on the cake.”
Ferry also includes several tender moments, which relate to the birthday wish itself. Rule #8 highlights Ferry’s poetic prose: “You must make a wish . . . It can be a big wish. Or a little wish. It can be a now wish. Or a later wish. But it should definitely be a “can’t think of anything greater” wish.”
Litchenfield’s illustrations are clean, adorable, and add to the humour. In Rule #9, a moose is blowing bubbles instead of blowing out the birthday candles. This illustration has an asterisk beside it, and a corresponding footnote reads: “*moose are notoriously bad at following directions.”
This is a picture book that parents will ask to reread as birthdays approach. TEN RULES OF THE BIRTHDAY WISH would also make a terrific birthday gift.
My next birthday wish will be for more pairings between this author and illustrator duo!