The Bad Birthday Idea

The Bad Birthday Idea

by Madeline Valentine
     
 

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Ben likes to play with robots. His little sister, Alice, would like to play with Ben. But when she and her doll try to join Ben's games, Ben says, "No dolls allowed. This is a robot game."

That's why Alice asks for a robot for her birthday. Not just any robot. The exact robot Ben has been wanting forever!

Ben is very, very jealous. He wants that robot. Now.

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Overview

Ben likes to play with robots. His little sister, Alice, would like to play with Ben. But when she and her doll try to join Ben's games, Ben says, "No dolls allowed. This is a robot game."

That's why Alice asks for a robot for her birthday. Not just any robot. The exact robot Ben has been wanting forever!

Ben is very, very jealous. He wants that robot. Now. Maybe he could sneak it out of its wrapping during Alice's birthday party and play with it for awhile. Nobody will know. Right?

But Ben's bad idea goes very wrong and he feels terrible. Now it's up to him to show Alice that a sister is more important than even the best robot toy in the world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/07/2013
“When Alice tried to play with her brother, Ben would say, ‘No dolls allowed. This is a robot game,’ ” writes Valentine (Ava and the Real Lucille). So Alice asks for the top-of-the-line Roboy 2000 for her birthday—a toy Ben covets—with the unspoken plan of making herself an irresistible playmate. Jealous, Ben opens Alice’s gift before the birthday party guests arrive, accidentally breaks Roboy 2000, and tries to hide his guilt and the deed amid all the festivities. This is Valentine’s first book as both author and illustrator, and the heart of her story has lots of comic potential, especially given her relatively understated drawing style: to Ben’s horror, bits and pieces of Roboy keep surfacing during the party (an eyeball turns up in one guest’s punch cup), taunting him like Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart.” Readers won’t have trouble mustering empathy for Ben at the awful moment when Roboy goes bust, though the sibling reconciliation that closes out the book comes across as a bit too neat. Ages 3–7. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-25
A lovely package of a picture book about siblings and sharing, birthdays and toys. Ben loves to play with his toy robot, to the point where he seems oblivious to his little sister Alice's love for him. He refuses to play with her and her doll, saying, "No dolls allowed. This is a robot game." Forlorn but not dissuaded, Alice devises a plan that ends up getting Ben's attention: She requests a new Roboy 2000 for her upcoming birthday. Jealous, Ben surreptitiously unwraps her gift and plays with it, which is a bad idea. He mistakenly breaks it before the guests arrive for her party and then quickly hides it away where no one can see it. Wracked with guilt, Ben eventually confesses his misdeed, and then he generously gives Alice his own robot to replace her broken one. While this arises as an idealistically easy and swift resolution, the expressive, cartoonish graphite, gouache and colored-pencil illustrations support the believability of the characters' actions and reactions. Ben looks truly distraught when his father asks, "Where is the family's gift?" and Alice is lovingly forgiving and eager to play with her brother when he makes amends. Reading this book is a good idea. (Picture book. 4-6)

School Library Journal
12/01/2013
K-Gr 2—Ben doesn't like to play dolls with his sister. His favorite toy is a robot, so Alice requests a Roboy 2000 for her birthday, figuring that if she has a robot too, her brother will play with her. Ben is astounded. A robot like that should be his! Just before her birthday party, he is told to place the box with the Roboy 2000 on the present table, but instead he unwraps it and takes the toy out. The radio-controlled robot zips around the room and crashes into the wall. Ben panics and hides the broken gift in a chest before the guests arrive. After all items are opened, Dad notices that the family's present is missing, and Mom asks Ben to get it. The guilty boy reluctantly reveals the smashed toy. He feels bad about ruining his sister's birthday, so he presents his own robot to her. Alice is pleased and asks if he'll now play with her, and Ben promises that he will. The title ends with all the partygoers having fun. Illustrations, which vary in size from vignettes to full spread, are done using graphite, gouache, and colored pencils. The party is shown in all its appropriate messiness. This is a book with a moral that readers can't miss.—Ieva Bates, Ann Arbor District Library, MI

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780449813317
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
11/12/2013
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
1,410,594
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

MADELINE VALENTINE grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and now lives in Queens with her husband. She graduated from Pratt Institute and is the illustrator of Albertine's Got Talent! by Shena Power and Ava and the Real Lucille by Cari Best. This is her first project as both author and illustrator.

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