Hello, friends! Our book today is The Perfect Party, written by Laurel P. Jackson and illustrated by Hélène Baum-Owoyele, a raucous tale of diversity and inclusivity.
It’s Little Robin’s birthday, and all his animal friends have turned out to make his party something special. The perfect party requires the perfect music and food, right? But as the animals from the United States, Portugal, Jamaica, Germany, Korea, India, and more try to raise their voices over one another – first in fighting whose song is the best, then over whose native cuisine should be served – they only end up making a lot of noise and a big old mess. How can all the animals work together to give Little Robin the party he deserves?
Confusing and convoluted, yet fun. Jackson’s story starts with a good premise and an always-worthwhile theme, but never marries the two completely. While the glimpse into how different languages/cultures interpret animals noises (the Portuguese rooster sings “Cocoricó!” while the Nigerian ones sings “Kukurukuu!”, for instance) is interesting, it never really explains to young readers why the animals’ noises are interpreted differently before moving to the next concept. In contrast, the solution for the issues of multiple languages and cuisines – that the animals all sing together and the food all be mixed together – feel a little oversimplified (wouldn’t the individual cultures’ foods be better enjoyed at a shared banquet that equally celebrated each dish as its own unique creation, rather than a stone well of mushed-up food?). However, while the narrative is a bit messy, its theme of inclusivity is still solid for young readers, and the extremely vibrant and lively watercolor-and-digital artwork will delight animal lovers. The length is fine for an elementary-aged storytime, and JJ enjoyed the illustrations, though she was puzzled about the differing animal noises. Overall, this one is a little chaotic, but it still kind of works, especially as a celebration of the things that make us different. Baby Bookworm approved!
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)