cover image Happy Birthday, Jesse Bear!

Happy Birthday, Jesse Bear!

Nancy White Carlstrom. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-02-717277-5

The quintessential preschooler, Jesse Bear can't wait until his birthday party begins: ``Letters in the mailbox,/ Prizes from the store,/ House is decorated,/ Banner on the door.'' From the time his guests arrive until Jesse is tucked in for the night, the bear's fourth birthday is filled with traditional treats-musical chairs, a treasure hunt, sack race and a birthday cake-and his parents' special gift, a copy of Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? As in the previous books starring this beguiling bruin (see Notes, p. 72), Carlstrom's bouncy, rhyming text and Degen's bright watercolors are perfectly tuned to the humor and sensibilities of their intended audience. Long on brio and short on plot, the story eschews conflict, focusing instead on the details of Jesse's idyllic day. Degen's endearing pictures of Jesse and his beaming parents, together with the decorative borders filled with striped candy, flowers and party favors, cheerfully support the book's thesis that ``parties should not end.'' Ages 2-6. (Sept.)