The Birthday Party Cake by Alison Reynolds, illustrated by Mikki Butterley (Five Mile Press) HB $14.95 ISBN 9781760067236
Reviewed by Dianne Bates
Pickle is a big brown bear, Bree is a tiny girl and both are best friends who live in a double-storeyed house (Pickle in a ‘cave’ under the stairs). Like all friends, they sometimes have misunderstandings and disagreements which is the basis of this book for readers 5 to 8 years which is one in a series.
In this book, Bree is happy and ready for fun, but Pickle is grouchy. When Bree finds the big bear making a honey cake for his friend Jason’s birthday, she realises that there’s no invitation for her to the party but Pickle reassures her she’s welcome. Bree makes a three-layer chocolate cake while Pickle’s honey cake is lopsided. At the party, Pickles and the birthday boy play Bear Bump and are not really interested in Eyespy, but they give in. When Bree’s chocolate cake is not what Jason wants, Bree (who has been practicing) triple-somersaults into the cake and then pours honey all over it. Later, Bree is scorer for Bear Bump, and she teaches Pickle how to somersault.
The relationships in this book are basically about people making compromises. Sub-titled Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds, the story reminds young readers that although people (and bears) are different, it is possible, by working hard, to find solutions when there is some kind of incompatibility. At the back of The Birthday Party Cake the author has included a list of ways in which children can settle differences with others – such as accepting others’ points of view and listening to what they have to say.
This is a lovely book with a bright and breezy text that gets its message across without seeming in the slightest didactic. The full-page illustrations with colourful backgrounds and delightful pictures set indoors -- sometimes featuring small break-out pictures (such as Bree somersaulting and the bears tummy-bumping) -- are joyful and full of fun. All in all, this is a delightful book for parents to share with their young children.