When's My Birthday?

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
When's My Birthday? Book Poster Image
Jubilant book conveys giddy anticipation of a birthday.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Elements of a birthday celebration: cake, party, invited guests, presents. Concept of time, how long is a wait. Seasons (winter, spring). Pictures of animals and insects to identify.

Positive Messages

Birthdays and celebrations are fun, and so is the anticipation of them. A birthday is a "happy happy" day that might include singing, dancing, and jumping. It's fun to invite friends to celebrate with you.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Child narrator is buoyant, spirited and has a sense of excitement and fun. Includes lots of friends on invite list.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that When's My Birthday? is by bestselling author Julie Fogliano (And Then It's Spring) and multi-award-winning illustrator Christian Robinson (Last Stop on Market Street), and the pairing is perfect. The text is a torrent of excited questions from a young girl about her upcoming birthday. And the art, a combination of acrylic paint and collage, evokes the simple, blocky style of classic books by Ezra Jack Keats, with smiling bugs reminiscent of Eric Carle. This very happy birthday book manages to feel both classic and completely contemporary at once.

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What's the story?

In WHEN'S MY BIRTHDAY? a narrator asks a series of excited questions about her upcoming birthday, including the repeated refrain (in all lowercase letters), "when’s my birthday? where’s my birthday? how many days until my birthday?" The questions include ones about presents, cake, guests, and more: "will my birthday have some singing? will we sing so happy happy? will we dance around and round? will we jump and jump and jump?" The answer: A jubilant yes!

Is it any good?

The excitement's contagious in this simple picture book in which a girl asks a cascade of giddy questions about her upcoming birthday as she anticipates the festivities and fun. Parents will recognize the buzzy spiel that spills out of the keyed-up kid in When's My Birthday? The text is rhythmic, carrying the reader along, and a repeated refrain works beautifully to help build rhythm and suspense.

Illustrator Christian Robinson is perfect for the project. His world is always inclusive, and he invites kids of all skin shades to this fun party. Also invited: a giraffe, a sloth, and a goldfish! Robinson's mixed-media collage art is emotionally inventive -- the present the girl imagines opening is as large as the page, and a boy has to climb a ladder to reach the candles on the cake -- all of which perfectly conveys the excitement kids feel about this outsized happy annual event.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the feelings of anticipation in When's My Birthday. Do you feel excited when your birthday's coming? Is it hard to wait for it?

  • Can you find all the animals in the pictures? Which ones would you want to invite to your party?

  • How do you think the illustrator made the art? What different materials do you think he used on different pages?

Book details

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