cover image The Meanest Birthday Girl

The Meanest Birthday Girl

Josh Schneider. Clarion, $14.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-547-83814-4

Dana’s supercilious, selfish demeanor makes it clear that her behavior on her birthday is no different from her modus operandi on the other 364 days of the year. Imagine her surprise, then, when her most put-upon peer gives her a very large white elephant as a gift. “Dana would not have given a birthday present to someone who called her an ickaborse and pinched her and ate the dessert out of her lunch.” But trying to be a conscientious pet owner results in sleepless nights and hungry days for Dana. Schneider (Tales for Very Picky Eaters) seems to draw inspiration from both O. Henry and Edward Gorey, with deadpan, dead-on writing and meticulously inked, elegantly styled watercolors (the lumbering pachyderm is quite a looker, its whiteness evoked through washes of icy pink and blue). What’s more, he pulls off quite the hat trick: he serves justice, subtly (and quite cleverly) lets readers see another side to Dana, and brings the story to a close in a way that both makes amends and pays it forward, Gothic-style. Ages 6–9. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (May)