The Birthday Letters


When Emilia receives this from Tom's dog, Louie:

Please come to my birthday party this Saturday at 2 o'clock. You can bring a dog biscuit or a rubber bone if you want ...

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When Emilia receives this from Tom's dog, Louie:

Please come to my birthday party this Saturday at 2 o'clock. You can bring a dog biscuit or a rubber bone if you want to.
Your friend,

She replies with this:

Dear Tom,
Thank you for your invitation. I will be there on Saturday at 2 o'clock with my gerbils.
Yours truly,

That's where the trouble begins. And soon not only are the gerbils banned from the guest list, but so is Emilia. Or is she?

When Tom decides to have a birthday party for his dog Louie, one of the invited guests unwittingly starts an argument that is carried out entirely by correspondence.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
These days cell phone companies advertise their services by showing kindergartners phoning each other on the playground, and society mavens mourn the lost art of letter writing. Wouldn't a cute book showing written correspondence between two little children working out a conflict over a puppy's birthday party help? JoAnn Adinolfi's vivid, two-dimensional, illustrations appropriately bring to life Charlotte Pomerantz's little story. We have to love that young Emilia wants to RSVP to Dog Louie's invitation in writing, but when she accepts his invitation for herself and her two gerbils, trouble begins, not only in the plot, but also with the story's lesson. No matter how cute the protagonist, one of the basic rules of etiquette is that one does not try to foist uninvited guests on a generous host. Being uncomfortable with making Emilia the hero and host Tom the villain may be quibbling, but there's really no need to promote one element of politeness at the expense of another. With these fine points of gentility aside, this book, with a little additional explanation from parent or teacher, might help introduce a new generation to the possibilities of polite, written correspondence. 2000, William Morrow, Ages 4 to 8, $15.95 and $15.89. Reviewer: Donna T. Brumby
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Louie the dog is about to celebrate his first birthday and his owner, Tom, invites all their friends in the building, but decides to exclude Emilia when she RSVPs for herself and her two gerbils. Outraged by this insult, the girl begins an argument with Tom through letters he writes "on behalf of Louie." The letters reflect the language structure and sentiments of children, especially when Tom uninvites Emilia and adds, "P.S. I only invited you because you are Pedro's little sister. P.P.S. Gerbils give me the willies." The ending is the weakest part of this story. Emilia crashes the party and proves that Louie likes her even if his owner does not. She, however, invites them both to a party for her pets the following week, and the last page depicts the whole gang having a grand old time. The illustrations, rendered in watercolors, gouache, and pastel pencils, add significant expression to the characters and humor to the straightforward dialogue. Keeping the same style of drawing as in Tina's Diner (S & S, 1997), here the artist uses brighter colors on a less crowded canvas and effectively adds some textured backgrounds. A good read-aloud for young children when discussing the topic of parties, guests, and feelings.-Tina Hudak, Takoma Park Maryland Library, MD Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Despite some funny touches, Pomerantz's story of the tedious bickering between two kids gets hoist on its own petard. Tom wants to have a birthday party for his dog Louie. He sends out invitations to his friends Lily and Pedro, and to Pedro's sister Emilia. Emilia writes back that she and her gerbils would love to attend. (Actually, Pedro writes, and reads, everything for Emilia, though only after Emilia likes to pretend she is doing him a favor.) Tom says no gerbils; he evidently wants Louie to have the limelight. The two set to quibbling via the mail—Emilia calls Tom the world's meanest potato head (comically rendered by Adinolfi, who draws Tom as a lumpy head full of eyes) and he refuses to relent. Emilia appeals to Tom's better half, but Louie, since Tom is doing the writing, says no to the gerbils. Finally comes the day of the party when Emilia just shows up, with a big steak bone hidden in her dress. This drives Louie crazy. It looks to Tom like Louie can't live without Emilia, so she gets to stay. But since she doesn't have the gerbils in tow, the victory has a hollow ring. And really, who needs more frivolous arguments in their lives? Adinolfi's artwork, though hip and darting and with an eye for any humor that can be wrung from the text, ultimately can't keep the dreary story afloat. (Picture book. 57)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688163365
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/2000
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.98 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 0.44 (d)

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