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Author: Carrie Best

Illustrator: Giselle Potter

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Publisher: DK Publishing, Inc.

Material: hard cover

Summary: Grandma Catherine wants to celebrate her birthday with a "no-present party." Everyone has found the perfect "no-present" except Sara, her grand daughter. With just a few hours before the party begins, Sara finds what she thinks is the perfect no present. A great family story that shows how the melting pot works, as Catherine is a Russian emigre. There's even Russian and Cyrrllic in the book!

Type of Reading: bedtime story, playtime reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 6 to 9

Interest Level: 4 to 9

Age of Child: started reading at 2 years

Young Reader Reaction: The birthday party as the central plot element drew our toddler's attention, but it was the various characters and their talents that kept her riveted.

Adult Reader Reaction: We enjoyed reading this book before we shared it with our 2-year-old. On a lark, looking for something new, we pulled it from the shelf. There is lots of text, so we weren't sure what would happen, but it was an instant hit.

Pros: This is a nice story to share with kids who tend to view birthdays as occasions to collect material things. The illustrations help make it fun and kept the toddler's eyes busy while we read the lengthy pages.

Cons: This is clearly a book for older kids, so the length of the text might be too much for toddlers/preschoolers who like rhyming cadence and quick page turners.

Borrow or Buy: Buy. Especially if your daughter is named Catherine or Sara.

If You Liked This Book, Try: A BIRTHDAY PRESENT FOR MAMA (Step into Reading Series, a Step 2 Book)   PAT THE BIRTHDAY BUNNY (lift-the-flap/activity book)   WE'RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT

Educational Themes: This is a great story for sharing the idea that birthdays don't have to be about material things. Gifts take all shapes and sizes.

Literary Categories: Fiction - birthday, Russian, family, picture book, grandparents

Date(s) Reviewed: March 2004

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