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Bun Bun’s Birthday

by Richard Scrimger, Gillian Johnson, illus.

There’s going to be a party for Bun Bun’s first birthday. Mommy, Daddy, and Eugene are busy putting up decorations and Bun Bun herself is watching the hoopla with fascination. But older sister Winifred? She’s hiding at the back of the big upstairs closet, not wanting anything to do with a party that isn’t for her. When Winifred finally comes out of hiding, Mommy recalls Winifred’s first birthday party, a party she can’t remember because she was so young. Mommy convinces her to join the celebration so she can remember all the details of Bun Bun’s birthday and tell her when she’s older.

Bun Bun’s Birthday is a very special picture book. The text is infused with the zany sense of humour that award-winning novelist Richard Scrimger (The Nose from Jupiter, A Nose for Adventure) has made his trademark in fiction for older readers. Bright and boisterous illustrations by Gillian Johnson (My Sister Gracie and Saranohair) match Scrimger’s comic turns every step of the way. Scrimger and Johnson subtly turn a serious look at sibling rivalry into a story that will have young readers chortling with irrepressible laughter. This is a picture book where what isn’t said is as important as what is. For example, having sought out Winifred, Mommy doesn’t ask her why she’s been hiding in the closet; no one shouts “Happy Birthday, Bun Bun!” but there’s no doubt that there’s a party happening here. But if Scrimger has provided a really solid frame for the story, it’s Johnson’s illustrations that make this book sing. Her lively watercolours get right to the heart of the matter and perfectly convey the complex emotional tensions that unfold seamlessly.