Your Birthday Was the Best! (The Curious Cockroach)

by Maggie Hutchings (Author) Felicita Sala (Illustrator)

Your Birthday Was the Best! (The Curious Cockroach)
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

The story of an eager cockroach who gate-crashes a birthday party -- with hilarious results. For fans of I Don't Want to Be a Frog.

It's your birthday, and little do you know that an unwelcome guest has joined in on the festivities. A friendly cockroach has snuck undetected into the house, and has proceeded to join in on all of your fun party games. You were so excited to finally spot him napping on top of your birthday cake, having eaten his fill, that you couldn't help but scream! You think he's gone when your dad sucks him up in the vacuum cleaner . . . but with a birthday party this good, he's going to be nearly impossible to keep away!

This laugh-out-loud picture book from bestselling author Maggie Hutchings and acclaimed illustrator Felicita Sala is the perfect birthday gift for young readers.

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Publishers Weekly

A friendly-faced cockroach with long, graceful antennae has a marvelous time at a child's birthday party in this gross-out comedy. "I joined in all the party games," the narrating insect explains, as Sala (Arno and His Horse) draws human kids of various skin tones bashing a piñata--and the cockroach holding a tiny stick, swiping gamely from a tree limb. Though readers begin to suspect that the insect isn't an invited guest, that doesn't bother the optimistic cockroach. It's so wiped out by its exertions, in fact, that it falls asleep on the birthday cake, a mint-green affair decorated with sprinkles and cherries. "You were so excited to see me," the cockroach recalls about its cake-top discovery, "You screamed." Sala draws a tight, horror movie-style close-up of the light-skinned child bellowing before a parent brings out the vacuum cleaner, and the plot thickens. Hutchings (Dragon!) reveals that far from being repulsed, the cockroach is charmed by what's on offer inside the vacuum in a book highlighting a character whose cheer is indomitable despite disadvantages of species and reputation. Ages 3-7. (Feb.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 2--Move over, Gregor Samsa; here's another cockroach poised for immortality! Hutchings voices a clueless, four-inch crawler with hairy legs, long antennae, huge eyes, and a big smile, who, seeing a party starting, joins in unnoticed until he is discovered snoozing on the cake. He believes the kids' screams show their joyful excitement to see him. Dad comes to the rescue with a much-feared vacuum that turns out to be a source of delicious food (not for the squeamish) within, and the relentlessly upbeat roach is subsequently reunited with lost family members in the garbage bin. He's happy to see them but eagerly returns to the festivities ("I knew you'd miss me") where--rinse and repeat. Sala's perfect, just-realistic-enough, bug's-eye illustrations underscore the deadpan gulf between the narrator's and the humans' perspectives. VERDICT Many young readers will find this side-splitting, and adults should get hold of their weak stomachs and prepare for multiple joyous readings.--Patricia D. Lothrop

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Viewers who appreciate the more disgusting side of life will get plenty of laughs out of this chipper cockroach protagonist. —Imaginary Elevators
Maggie Hutchings
MAGGIE HUTCHINGS is a counselor, family-dispute mediator, writer and artist. She is the author of Unicorn!, Mermaid! and Dragon!, all published by Affirm Press, as well as Your Birthday Was the Best! She lives in Australia.

FELICITA SALA received Italy's Premio Andersen for her work illustrating many books for children, including Your Birthday Was the Best!; Green on Green by Dianne White; She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lynn Fulton, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book; Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor by Patricia Valdez; The Octopus Escapes by Maile Meloy; and Ode to an Onion by Alexandria Giardino. She lives in Rome, Italy.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Tundra Books (NY)
Publication date
February 20, 2022
The Curious Cockroach
BISAC categories
JUV019000 - Juvenile Fiction | Humorous Stories
JUV002140 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Insects, Spiders, etc.
JUV017100 - Juvenile Fiction | Holidays & Celebrations | Birthdays
Library of Congress categories
Domestic fiction
Birthday parties
Animal fiction

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