Half a Birthday, Double the Joy

During the week of October 21 to 27, 2013 the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin, in cooperation with Kulturkind e.V., will host readings, workshops, and an open day for the public with the theme “Multifaceted: a book week on diversity in children’s and young adult literature.” Employees of various departments have been vigorously reading, discussing, and preparing a selection of books for the occasion. Some of these books will be introduced here over the course of the next few months.
Multifaceted books for children and young adults
Why celebrate a half-birthday? Because no one can wait till Oscar’s first real birthday, that’s why!

Book cover with little Oscar and a birthday cake Oscar is the little hero of the 2005 illustrated children’s book Oscar’s Half Birthday by Bob Graham. So, since no one can wait, Oscar’s mother, father, and sister Lilli – with fairy wings on her back and a dinosaur doll in her hand – prepare a picnic and take Oscar and their dog Boris to the park. On the way there they watch cars from a pedestrian overpass, wait for the eleven-fifteen train on a downstairs platform, and listen to the wind move through the treetops in the forest.

In the park, little Oscar delights the other visitors who surround the family and join in singing a round of “Happy Birthday” that echoes through the whole city. Naturally there’s also birthday cake, adorned with half a candle, since it’s just a half-birthday. In the evening the family returns home tired but happy. Lilli and Oscar fall asleep on the sofa, while their parents dance together in the living room. That’s how Oscar’s first little birthday party comes to an end.

Book cover and back side with sister Lilli This enchanting and gorgeously illustrated read-aloud book will also just make you a little happier. The reason, aside from the lovingly-told story, is that the book shows something very seldom depicted in children’s books in Germany: a family whose members have different skin colors – in a story where skin color is completely irrelevant.

Mariette Franz, Education

Bob Graham, Oscar’s Half Birthday, Somerville, MA: Candlewick 2005, and London: Walker Books Ltd. 2008, 32 pages, 2 – 6 years

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