Schneider, Josh. 2013. THE MEANEST BIRTHDAY GIRL. NY; Clarion. ISBN 978054783814144 [Suggested Grade Levels K – 3]
In this 48-page chapter book for beginning readers, birthday girl Dana receives an unexpected gift of a big white elephant from Anthony, a boy she has badly mistreated. Readers will laugh as caring for the oversized and demanding pet moves Dana from selfish to selfless. When she finds herself mistreated by another classmate, Dana displays a new self-awareness. Dana is moved to apologize for her actions; after accepting her apology, Anthony helps Dana realize just what to give the new class bully as a birthday gift. The cycle, readers can see, will continue.
In five short chapters, Schneider spins a simple story that will engage children with humor, kid-behavior that rings true, and a cleverly satisfying conclusion. His quirky water color illustrations depict cartoony characters, which are occasionally likable and always authentic.
This story provides an opportunity to discuss empathy with young children. You may want to allow them to share experiences they may have had in which they felt mistreated or even bullied by peers.
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By Suzy Parchman