Happy Birthday, Pink Dog is a delightful children’s book by first-time author Jennae Noelle (who is also a homeschooler). It tells the simple story of a dog whose friends seemingly forget his birthday, although (spoiler alert!) he finds out in the end that they haven’t forgotten at all.
This 22 page, paperback book tells its story in two page layouts. On the left page is the story; each segment of the story consists of between two and four sentences. On the right page is a full color drawing.
Let me talk about the illustrations for a moment. Each illustration is drawn in crayon and pencil, making them very child-friendly. But while the medium used is childlike, the attention to detail is not. Each illustration has several different colors in them. (In one illustration alone, I counted three different shades of blue, not to mention all the other colors.) There are well thought out details in each drawing, including individual leaves on trees, individual petals on flowers, tufts in the grass, and waves in the pond. These subtle touches are very appealing to young children and adults alike. I liked the thin lines that are used for the animals’ necks and limbs, which are a stark contrast to their puffy heads and bodies. In short, both my children and I found the illustrations charming.
There are a couple of problems with the book. The first is that the plot is not a new one. A friend forgetting someone’s birthday—only to realize that they haven’t really forgotten—is a storyline done countless times in books, television shows, and films. Even though the plot is not new, it is a simple story, told in a simple way, which should delight preschoolers and young school age children.
This book also reminds me of the Nickelodeon show “Blue’s Clues” in that its simple plots involve animal characters that are usually referred to by a color and their species (such as “Pink Dog”). Even the main character is a boy, despite him being a color that is usually associated more with females (like “Magenta” in the aforementioned show). Despite the book’s similarities to a children’s television show, I think it is good to challenge readers’ preconceived notions of who a character is. So, this wasn’t much of an issue for my family.
The final problem with the book is that it is only 22 pages long. (Honestly, I wanted the story to continue and be longer.) However, the shortness of the book makes it perfect for a bedtime story.
To me, those are all minor problems. The delightful illustrations, cast of 14 colorful characters, and simple storyline all made for a wonderful book to share with my children. (My youngest especially liked the bright colors. “It’s all pink-y,” she said.) I can see using the book to explore both counting and colors with young children, which is an added benefit of reading this story together. Overall, I highly recommend Jennae Noelle’s Happy Birthday, Pink Dog for ages three to nine.
Happy Birthday, Pink Dog is available for purchase through the author’s website (www.jennaenoelle.com). You can also purchase it through Amazon, where it is available in either paperback (for $10.00) or Kindle (for $2.99) formats.
Reviewed by HEM reader Patti Bukowski