Aunt Ceecee, Aunt Belle and Mama's Surprise

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Overview

Mama's birthday is coming, and she says she doesn't want a big fuss. No presents, no party, no cake.

But her daughter knows better. She knows Mama loves a birthday and the fuss that comes just once a year. So what's the answer? A surprise party, of course! Take two disorganized aunts, a secret password, a houseful of cats, a forgetful daddy, a constantly tied-up telephone, ...
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Overview

Mama's birthday is coming, and she says she doesn't want a big fuss. No presents, no party, no cake.

But her daughter knows better. She knows Mama loves a birthday and the fuss that comes just once a year. So what's the answer? A surprise party, of course! Take two disorganized aunts, a secret password, a houseful of cats, a forgetful daddy, a constantly tied-up telephone, and one take-charge girl . . . and you have the recipe for the perfect party!

Festive text and illustrations, combined with cartoon-style dialogue balloons, make this a fun book for sharing and reading aloud.

Because nit-picking Aunt Belle and slapdash Aunt CeeCee help plan the surprise party for her mother's birthday, the young planner faces lots of frenzy and confusion.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Chesworth's (Archibald Frisby) cartoon artwork, an homage to the Jazz Age, adds an effervescent charm to Quattlebaum's (Jazz, Pizzazz, and the Silver Threads) tongue-in-cheek tale of an eccentric family attempting to pull off a surprise party. The narrator, a "take-charge kind of girl," has to overcome the inefficiency of both Aunt CeeCee, who "slapdashes at the very last minute" (she's too busy reading movie magazines to mail the invitations), and Aunt Belle, who "nitpicks the tiniest things" (finding just the right streamers becomes an obsession). The artwork brims with period details, from spats to flapper dresses and cloche hats. Dialogue boxes add a comic-strip-like element to the cartoony artwork: "Remember, I don't want a party," declares the narrator's mother, throwing up her hands in disdain; "You said that yesterday," observes the narrator, as the idea takes root. Other witty touches include a band of unruly cats who up the ante as the moment of the honoree's arrival approaches: "They were playing Tarzan with the streamers and hippo with the punch" (from the hilarious illustration, "playing hippo" seems to involve standing eyeball-deep in the punch). The book conveys the narrator's pride in saving the day, but makes that, too, part of the book's humor: the last page shows the narrator, mouth wide, telling the story for the umpteenth time while her mother and aunts laugh along. Like them, readers will be happy to hear this tale of teetering on the brink of party disaster over and over. Ages 5-8. (May) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-A feisty girl narrates the story of the surprise birthday party that she plans for her mother with the help of Mama's sisters. She describes all of the usual problems that go along with trying to pull off a surprise. Daddy can't seem to remember the secret code, Aunt CeeCee insists on "slapdashing" things together at the last minute, and Aunt Belle "nitpicks" over little details. The clever heroine deftly juggles her difficult relatives and manages to pull off the perfect celebration, complete with just the right gift. While the illustrations set the story in the Roaring `20s, this is a timeless tale. The fun, frenetic watercolor paintings, which move the plot along through the use of comic-book style layouts and dialogue balloons, have many details to keep readers looking back for more, and are instrumental in bringing each of the characters to life. Because the artwork demands close examination, this is a book to share one-on-one rather than in storytime; it is also well suited to beginning readers. A good choice for eager party planners, and certainly for loving daughters.-Dina Sherman, Brooklyn Children's Museum, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The commotion over preparations for Mama's surprise birthday party form the basis for Quattlebaum's latest, told from the point of view one of the daughters in the household. "To buy" and "to do" lists are quickly compiled with the help of two well-meaning aunts, slapdash Aunt CeeCee and nitpicking Aunt Belle, with nary a thought given to what could go wrong. In no time, little sister Flo is boo-hooing and younger brother Squeal nearly gives away the surprise. The father forgets the password, the cats tear into the presents, and the cake is still "bald as a stone" as the clock tick-ticks toward party time. Only a "take-charge kind of girl" can save the day, and the young narrator does precisely that. Mama's surprise is no surprise to readers, but despite the anticipated event, it's the prelude that counts. Snazzy Jazz-Age-inspired drawings are as full of fuss and frenzy as the party preliminaries themselves. Chesworth uses comic-book style panels to divulge action and dialogue balloons to deliver sharp humor. A whispered conversation not meant to be heard by Mama is cleverly rendered in silhouette. This is ideal for those who prefer the fixings over the fanfare of the festivities themselves. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385322751
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 5/11/1999
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.17 (w) x 8.71 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Quattlebaum is a poet and the author of Jackson Jones and the Puddle of Thorns and Underground Train.

Michael Chesworth illustrated Better than TV and is the author and illustrator of Rainy Day Dream and Archibald Frisby.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2008

    Adorable!

    This was one of my daughter's favorite books when she was about six -- the very mention of it years later brings a warm smile to her face!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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