cover image Birthday Presents

Birthday Presents

Cynthia Rylant. Orchard Books (NY), $13.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-531-05705-6

On the first five birthdays of one small girl, five different cakes are bakedstar cake, clown, train, robot and dinosaur cakes, respectively. There are also demands for presents, and questions as to who and how many guests should attend. The language and concepts used on these occasions reflect the world of the one-to-five-year-old setexpressions like ""counting little piggies,'' ``sucking fingers,'' ``spitting up,'' ``chocolate faces'' (the result of enjoying cake until it's smeared from here to there), naps, crabbiness and stomachaches. Before her sixth birthday, the small girl has learned to offer her parents gifts on their birthdays. A celebration of love, this book is as delicious as a ``chocolate face'' and just as funny. Stevenson's baby/toddler/little girl is joyful and charismatic, with puffed, rosy cheeks, acrobatic postures that only babies perform, thoroughly engrossed in various activities like playing, baking and drawing. Ages 4-6. (August)