cover image The Best Birthday Ever! By Me (Lana Kittie)

The Best Birthday Ever! By Me (Lana Kittie)

Charise Mericle Harper, Disney-Hyperion, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4231-3776-4

Birthday parties aren't just annual indulgences in narcissism; they also offer teachable moments on the art of being a gracious hostess. Harper (Cupcake) wears her etiquette doyenne hat lightly as her sprightly heroine guides readers through a successful (practice) soiree, with her toys serving as guests. All the examples hit the "funny-because-it's-true" nail on the head ("This is not a good way to welcome a party guest. ‘Oh good, you brought a present. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!' "), while conveying useful tips to boot. "A good birthday hostess chooses something everyone can do together," writes Harper, while the creatively attired Lana ("On your birthday, no one should be the boss of your fashion except you!") dances with a stuffed monkey and whale. And party planners should note that "eggs on a stick" and "peanut butter and lettuce" are on the do-not-serve list, as far as food goes. The precocious pedagogy, combined with frisky, naïf drawings and a candy-colored palette, give these pages a deliciously intimate feel, as if readers have been given the privilege of reading a peer's journal. Ages 3–up. (Jan.)