cover image CHLO'S BIRTHDAY... AND ME


Giselle Potter, . . Atheneum/Schwartz, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-86230-4

As the attention-seeking title suggests, older sibling Giselle resents the attention lavished on her sister Chloë, who is turning five. "Chloë was too little to even care that it was her birthday," she sulks, as she and her mother shop for a gift in the French village where they are vacationing. At the parfumerie , Giselle's mother buys a bottle of the fragrance "Chloë" and Giselle pretends the shopping bag belongs to her (" 'Is there a perfume called Giselle?' I asked... but no one seemed to hear me"). On the big day, the family heads for the beach, where Giselle sneakily hides Chloë's perfume under the sand as "a fun game." In this follow-up to The Year I Didn't Go to School , Potter convincingly describes Giselle's envy and her guilty, absurd conduct when she realizes her mistake: " 'Maybe we can smell where it is,' I said. Mom looked furious, so I... pretended to be an excited dog." The moon-faced characters, with their sidelong glances and Mona Lisa grins, convey a subtle range of feelings. Giselle's narration hints at her conflicted emotions; she playfully distracts Chloë from the missing item, and her selfishness changes to relief when the birthday girl unearths her surprise. Potter's sepia-toned watercolors—pale skin, rinsed-out-yellow sand, blue-gray water—give this novelistic tale the quiet quality of reminiscence. Ironically—or apologetically?—the book comes complete with a birthday card for some generous giver. Ages 4-8. (June)