cover image I'M NOT INVITED?


Diana Cain Bluthenthal, . . Atheneum/ Jackson, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-84141-5

Any kid who has ever felt excluded will immediately identify with the cover art on Bluthenthal's (Matilda the Moocher) satisfying book: a forlorn-looking girl watches a trio of peers walk by, engulfed in a bouquet of balloons. Minnie hears a girl ask Charles, "What time is the party?" and races home to check her mailbox for the invitation that is not there. Convinced that Charles will still invite her, the child is reminded of the forthcoming festivities at every turn: this week's vocabulary words have a party theme, she answers a wrong-number phone call for "Parties 'R' Us" and the pattern on her pajamas reminds her of confetti and streamers. Beginning to lose hope as the party day draws near, Minnie tries to console herself ("It's okay.... I don't have to be invited to everything" and "That's it!... Charles meant to invite me, but forgot to, and then forgot that he forgot!"). The girl's mood swings are easily discernible in Bluthenthal's winsome watercolors, and Minnie's misery is balanced visually by her (and others') exaggerated expressions and by the cheerful palette. Though real-life stories rarely have the happy ending that caps this tale (it was Charles's sister's party all along), most kids will recognize Minnie's situation and be inspired by her upbeat example. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)