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“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
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.