Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Bad Birthday Idea  
By Madeline Valentine
Published 2013

Recognition:  A Junior Library Guild Selection.

The Bad Birthday Idea is a delightful story full of action that your students will easily be able to relate to:  sibling rivalry, sharing possessions, birthday parties and playing together to name a few.  

Because of this, The Bad Birthday Idea is a solid choice as a mentor text in writing workshop as an example of a ‘small moment’ or as a personal narrative. For older students new to writing workshop, The Bad Birthday Idea could even be introduced as a memoir.  

In reading workshop, The Bad Birthday Idea could easily be used with younger students as a mentor text to start a conversation about understanding characters actions as well as inferring feelings, connecting and predicting.

Book Talk
Ben has as younger sister, Alice, who greatly admires him and is ALWAYS wanting to play with him.  But Ben will have none of that, for many reasons.  The main reason is that Alice plays with dolls and Ben is basically obsessed with robots. No matter how hard she tries to play with Ben, he always tells Alice: “No dolls allowed. This is a robot game.”

Then along comes Alice’s birthday. Alice tells her parents the she want the new Roboy 2000 for her big birthday present from the family.

Ben was shocked because HE really wants the Roboy 2000 toy!!!  But his parents get it for Alice instead.

Some favorite lines:
“On the day of Alice’s birthday party, Ben has to put the wrapped Roboy 2000 on the presents table. It was so unfair. That’s when Ben had an idea.  He very quietly opened the wrapping paper. Then he very carefully opened the cardboard box and untwisted the little wires.”

And Ben looses himself in playing with Alice’s birthday present (before she opens it!!). He plays with it so vigorously that it hits the birthday piƱata, spins out of control, falls on the floor and breaks!

Of course, that is when the doorbell rings and the birthday guests start to arrive!  Ben quickly hides the broken toy, wrapping paper and cardboard box.  

The party begins and everyone is having a great time dancing, playing games and eating.  Then it is time to open the gifts.  Alice is delighted with all the presents, but when Mom and Dad ask Ben where the family present is, he feels sick. 

He admits to what he has done and tries to make amends with Alice by giving her his very favorite robot. Alice forgives him and asks him to play with her, which, of course, is all she really wanted all along.

**Illustrations by the author are delightful and help carry the story, especially when things go awry for Ben when the robot crashes.  Have students search that illustration for where pieces of the robot fall in the room and how kids at the party end up with those pieces.

Suggested Uses as a Mentor Text:
Book Genre:  Realistic Fiction
Reading Workshop Strategies: Connecting, Inferring, Predicting, Understanding Character Actions, Boy Hook
Writing Workshop Strategies: Small Moment, Personal Narrative, Narrative, Memoir

Madeline Valentine’s website:

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