Saturday 4 April 2015

Boa’s Bad Birthday

Boa’s Bad Birthday by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Tony Ross (Koala Books)
PB RRP $14.99
ISBN 978-1-74276-095-7
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Boa is excited about his birthday. He has invited all of his jungle friends and is looking forward to the presents. But as he opens each one, his disappointment grows. The gifts seem to be more suited to his friends than to him. Sloth brings him a hairbrush when Boa has no hair to brush! Jaguar brings him some brightly coloured mittens, but Boa has no hands!

Although disappointed, Boa is a polite snake and thanks each friend nicely. His mother reminds him, ‘it’s the thought that counts’. Then Dung Beetle brings his last gift. It is the worst of the lot. Or is it?

This is a story about seeing the value in something you may first dismiss as useless. And Boa learns this lesson gently with a loving mother by his side. The repetitive rhythm within the story is perfect for preschoolers and the element of guessing what is inside each well wrapped gift will engage these young readers. 

Tony Ross has an instantly recognisable illustration style, particularly in his people and trees. The warmth of the mother and the excitement of Boa’s friends as they give, what they think is the perfect gift, comes thorough strongly in the pictures. The emotion of the story is in these illustrations. Ross has illustrated over 800 books which are published worldwide. His Little Princess stories are very popular with young girls and is now an animated television series.

Jeanne Willis is a successful and well known picture book author and has written many prize winning stories.

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