cover image Your Birthday Was the Best!

Your Birthday Was the Best!

Maggie Hutchings, illus. by Felicita Sala. Tundra, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7352-7162-3

A friendly-faced cockroach with long, graceful antennae has a marvelous time at a child’s birthday party in this gross-out comedy. “I joined in all the party games,” the narrating insect explains, as Sala (Arno and His Horse) draws human kids of various skin tones bashing a piñata—and the cockroach holding a tiny stick, swiping gamely from a tree limb. Though readers begin to suspect that the insect isn’t an invited guest, that doesn’t bother the optimistic cockroach. It’s so wiped out by its exertions, in fact, that it falls asleep on the birthday cake, a mint-green affair decorated with sprinkles and cherries. “You were so excited to see me,” the cockroach recalls about its cake-top discovery, “You screamed.” Sala draws a tight, horror movie–style close-up of the light-skinned child bellowing before a parent brings out the vacuum cleaner, and the plot thickens. Hutchings (Dragon!) reveals that far from being repulsed, the cockroach is charmed by what’s on offer inside the vacuum in a book highlighting a character whose cheer is indomitable despite disadvantages of species and reputation. Ages 3–7. (Feb.)