Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Wild Birthday Cake

The Wild Birthday Cake
Lavinia R. Davis ~ pictures by Hildegard Woodward
Doubleday & Company, 1949

Let me preface by saying as far as picture books go, The Wild Birthday Cake is really, really long, so be forewarned... however, out of all my son's favorites, this story lies closest to my heart. I'm personally not super-jacked about this era of illustration, but for me, the specialness comes in the writing. I don't know much of anything about this book's author, but the plot is so reflective of my own childhood, I almost could have written it myself.

He was not sure exactly how his day of adventure was going to begin. It might start with damming up the brook at the bottom of Broomstick Hill to make a pool for minnows. It might start with walking down to the valley in search of chipmunks. Or he might begin by going into the woods to see if any sandpipers had stopped off in the marsh on their way north to the sea. Johnny was only sure that his adventure was going to be out of doors because it was such a beautiful day; and that it was going to have something to do with animals because he like animals better than anything else in the world.

Johnny sets out on a nature adventure, but when he becomes preoccupied with what to get a friend for his birthday, the answer ends up landing square in front of him.

I couldn't be more into this book. The way Ms. Davis writes is so striking and confident that the imagery of places and things are poetry unto themselves.

-- His heart clinked around inside his plaid shirt faster than the pop bottle inside his knapsack.

-- Johnny shivered... He wasn't cold... He was just excited at the sight of the ducks and the sound of their quacking.

-- It was a wonderful Fourth-of-July idea that exploded like a rocket right inside Johnny's head.

For all you teacher's out there, this would be a great read-aloud book for kids with a little more attention span who are doing nature studies. The sense of wonder here literally oozes.

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