Happy Birthday, Alice Babette

by Monica Kulling and Qin Leng

“It will be a day filled with surprises,” Alice Babette thinks. “Alice’s... read more

“It will be a day filled with surprises,” Alice Babette thinks. “Alice’s first surprise was that there was NO surprise. Her friend Gertrude didn’t even say happy birthday.” Alice spends the day walking around Paris on her own. Meanwhile, Gertrude is planning a special, surprise meal for Alice, even though she can’t cook. She’s also writing Alice a poem, about a rose, and loses all track of time. An imagined story about Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein is full of whimsy— and smoke! Alice returns home to a mess. But when Gertrude later reads the poem aloud, Alice loves it. The characters may be adults but everything in this story has child appeal, from the back-and-forth movement between Alice’s and Gertrude’s separate adventures throughout the day to the spirited writing to the charm of their distinctive personalities and the obvious fondness between them. Blithe pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations are a perfect accompaniment. An author’s note does not explicitly state the two women were partners, instead noting that they “lived together for almost forty years.” (Ages 4–8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2017

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