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The Children's Bookshelf: The Perfect Birthday Recipe

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THE PERFECT BIRTHDAY RECIPE written and delightfully illustrated by Katy Hudson is a picture book tale about friendship. The cast of characters are one very controlling Beaver whose birthday is coming up and his friends---- Tortoise, Squirrel, Bird and Rabbit.

In the first few pages the young reader can see that Beaver is very determined to bake a perfect birthday cake and to do it according to his   careful recipe. He has a “Project Cake” workroom where the ingredients, shopping lists and pictures of the perfect layers of chocolate, strawberry and carrot cake can be seen pinned to bulletin boards.

When his friends hear that he is baking his own birthday cake they decide to help him. This does not please Beaver. Squirrel spills some of the ingredients, Rabbit mistakes the recipe as saying 200 carrots needed when it really called for 2 carrots, Tortoise makes a mess of the frosting and Bird decides to change the magic ingredient from marshmallows to worms! Beaver is not happy and spends the night making his cake according to his perfect recipe. When he is done all of his friends are asleep and he must eat his birthday cake all alone.

Things turn out well, however, as he realizes having friends is more important than having his own way. They all gather the next day to eat the imperfect cake and enjoy each other’s company. The book is a feast for the eyes. The colors are luscious, the details are sweet and the lesson is just right.

THE PERFECT BIRTHDAY RECIPE written and illustrated by Katy Hudson is a delightful picture book about the importance of friends for children 4-7 years of age (Capstone Editions, A Capstone Imprint, 2020).

Activity Questions for The Perfect Birthday Recipe

Take a second look at Beaver’s birthday cake recipe drawing. How many layers does he want the cake to have? What flavors will they be? What magic ingredient does he plan to put in it? How does he feel about sprinkles? Have you ever helped plan and make a birthday cake? What would your favorite birthday cake look like? What flavors would you select? Would your cake have nuts, marshmallows or chocolate sprinkles on it? Using magic markers and colored pencils draw a picture of your “perfect” birthday cake. Have fun and make it tasty!

Turn to Beaver’s PROJECT CAKE office. Study the very detailed illustration and find the following items: a horn, a watering can, a recipe book, a file box, a ruler, a ball of red yarn, a wastepaper basket, an accordion, a lamp, a list of meringue flavors and Beaver’s hat. If this was your study area or workplace what would you include? Think about what you like around you when you work and create.  Make a list of items. Don’t forget photographs, medals, books, screens and treasures.

Have you ever demanded that things be your way or no way?  Have you ever worked with someone who demanded this? How does this hinder friendships in real life situations?

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.