Graham, Bob. Oscar’s Half Birthday. Book Review.

Click here to buy Oscar’s Half Birthday

This is a gentle, warm book about a family of four celebrating a little boy’s sixth month birthday. We are never told why this is so important, why the family can’t wait until he is one year old. That, in itself, could generate some interesting discussion.

The mother, father, sister Millie, and baby Oscar go on a picnic. When the parents light a candle on Oscar’s cake, all the people in the park who have been admiring the baby, join in singing “happy birthday.” Millie wears fairy wings throughout the journey as the family enjoys such simple gifts as the wind in the trees, the roar of the train, and the sunshine in the park. The writing is, at times, pure poetry. “Oscar frowns in the dim light – six different expressions on his face in the time it takes a leaf to fall.” and “The wind carries their song up over the hill, out across the traffic, higher than churches and factories and apartment buildings. It’s sound falls gently over the city – so faint that, only dogs can hear it. And somewhere down there, the one who started all of this… the half-birthday boy, Oscar, sits tilted at an angle, his fingers curled into Millie’s tuna sandwich. His shoulders are hunched, his head nods, and the light shines through his ears, illuminating them like little lanterns.”

This is a story infused with gentle love. It would be a wonderful book to share with a child who has a tiny baby sister or brother.

The illustrations are soft watercolors, often two-page spreads. They are simple but engaging. The mother is of African descent and the father is of European descent. At the end, each parent is carrying a well-loved, sleepy child.

Highly recommended.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


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