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Book Review: My Very Happy Birthday

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The childhood moments that are most remembered and cherished also tend to be the simplest. At least, that’s what has been true for me.

The traditions carried forward from year to year, honest and unadorned, are what float to the top of my memory when I reflect on my youth and these are what I try to keep in mind as I strive to create traditions for my  son.

Like all children, he listens to stories about himself with rapt attention. When he hears his name, he smiles and buries his head in my shoulder. So, it has been a special treat to read him his personalized version of My Very Happy Birthday by Jennifer Dewing.

In this sweet story, Turtle, Frog, Squirrel, and their friends hustle to plan and carry out a party for your little one. Their celebration is sincere and emphases the ability to find joy in the company of friends, not in a mountain of presents.

As word of the birthday party is passed from animal to animal, they each find something to contribute. Bird uses a twig to hand-make invitations, Squirrel procures the cake while Turtle, Owl, Mouse, and Duck form a band to create some home-grown music. Everyone joins together in song and dance for the sweet birthday child.

The illustrations echo the tone of the story with a DIY aesthetic. Bringing together collages of paper, fabric, and feathers with painted accents, the result is bold and fun. This title, of which there are both boy and girl versions, is part of a line of personalized books from I See Me!, the brain child of husband-wife team Maia and Allan Haag.

After seeing how much their own child enjoyed his personalized book, they sought to start a publishing company that would produce high-quality personalized children’s books that are published right here in the United States.

Their company’s mission is to “increase self esteem in children through personalized books that celebrate the uniqueness of each child. The goal of our books is to show each child how absolutely unique and special he or she is, to teach the child how to spell his or her name, and to build vocabulary skills.”

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