Review Blog

Jun 12 2014

Boa's bad birthday by Jeanne Willis

cover image

Ill. by Tony Ross. Koala Books, 2014. ISBN 9781742760957.
(Age: 4-6) Animals. Snakes. Birthdays. This odd little story of a boa waiting impatiently for the presents his friends will bring to him, offers a rather negative perspective about friendship and birthdays.
He is incredulous when the orangutan brings a piano as he has no fingers with which to play. He smarts when monkey brings sunglasses when he hasn't any ears or nose to hold them up. He is disappointed when the jaguar brings him mittens as he has no hands, and is happy when the sloth appears. Surely he will bring something nice. But no, the gift is a hairbrush. And so on, until the dung beetle brings a piece of dung which grows into a beautiful tree for the boa to sleep in. The last pages have a twist which will intrigue younger readers, and perhaps initiate discussions about what you do when someone gives you an unwanted present.
I liked the illustrations, they are funny and quirky, but I found some of the words, for example, rubbish and stink, as applied to unwelcome presents a little sad. But if this initiates discussion about the necessity of having the right words for the wrong present, then it will be useful.
The illustrations of the range of animals give the reader the opportunity of looking at animals not often seen in children's books, and recognising that most come from South America.
Fran Knight

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