#156 – Birthday Suit by Olive Senior

 5 Stars

Johnny loves to splash and crash in the ocean waves—naked.  Then one day Mom says he’s too old to run around without clothes on.  But Johnny thinks being naked is just fine. What will it take for Johnny to start wearing clothes?

Three-year-old Johnny, who is really closer to age four, loves to run around naked, much to the dismay of his parents and neighbors, plus one special friend–the ocean.  Johnny lives somewhere in the Caribbean Ocean, where the weather is warm and the days seem a little longer.  Johnny especially likes to be naked when he swims in the ocean waves.  I say, “You go, Johnny,” but his mother would not want to hear that.

When his mother tells him he is too old to run around naked, Johnny turns a deaf ear to her and continues to take his clothes off when she turns her back.  Mom tries everything to keep her son’s clothes on him–string, buttons, zippers, snaps, and bows all to no avail—Johnny simply tears his way out and goes about naked.  Finally, Mom brings out her secret weapon, a pair of overalls with metal studs on the legs, arms, sides, and waist.

........This here is genuine, 100 percent shrink-proof, 
........burglar-proof, hurricane-proof, child-proof,
..snap fastener with a lifetime guarantee against misuse!
................................................

Before Johnny can count to two, Mom has him snapped in the overalls.  Johnny wails—loudly.  Johnny throws himself on the beach and throws a wonderful, nearly four-year-old tantrum.

..... . . yells so loud the tide rushes out before its time.  
......Johnny's jellyfish squirming, jump-about jostling, 
.......writhing and tossing find him free, with a POP!  
...........................................

Dad decides its time he had a talk with Johnny, so they have a man-to-man.  He tells Johnny, One fact of life is, big kids wear clothes . . . Do you want to be big like Dad?  Johnny thinks about this for a moment.  He thinks of the kids he has seen going to school, playing soccer, and enjoying the sunny island life, then he looks up at his Dad.

I like Birthday Suit.  It is sweet, humorous, and oh so cute.  Plus, I love the Caribbean Islands and the illustrations put me right back to those days on one of the islands.  Johnny is a stubborn little boy who, at nearly four years old, insists on running around butt-naked.  What pre-school age child does not like being naked, free from the constraints of clothing or irritating fabrics?  Johnny is not yet school age and not far from the diaper age.  Running naked is natural for him.

I like how Johnny finds a way to free himself from his clothes and enjoy the blue ocean waters and its waves.  How fun this must be.  The author does a great job with the parent roles.  Mom tries to do everything she can think of to keep those clothes on her son.  Dad tries the logical route with their chat.  Did he succeed where Mom could not?    I love the final twist some may not notice and others will.

The illustrations are terrific.  I apologize.  No samples were made available for this review.

Palm trees sway in the breeze and the ocean is tantalizingly turquoise and blue.  The joy on Johnny’s face, when he plays in the ocean and the waves, has the huge smile children of that age so easy enjoy.  Just as vivid is the torment on Johnny’s face after his mother gets those one-hundred percent this and that proof overalls snapped on him.  In all the crying and fussing, the illustrator added humor that will have both parents and children laughing.

I think Birthday Suit will keep those that read it in stitches.  At the same time, any parent dealing with their own little Johnny (or Johanna), will find Birthday Suit helpful when trying to get their child into clothes before they leave the house.

Wonderfully written in rhyming verse and beautifully illustrated, Birthday Suit will appeal to those with naked children and those without.  The reader will find warmth, humor, and a distinctive island feel to the pages.  I believe children will find Birthday Suit funny and helpful.  They will see the problem with Johnny always running naked and be able to transfer that to themselves.

Birthday Suit is a beautifully funny story that boys and girls, and parents and grandparents will enjoy.  Yes, aunts, uncles, cousins, and the neighbor next door will also enjoy this picture book.

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Birthday Suit

Author:  Olive Senior   website

Illustrator:  Eugenie Fernandes   bio

Publisher:  Annick Press   website

Publication Date:  May 1, 2012

ISBN:  978-1-55451-369-7 (HB)

            978-1-55451-368-0  (PB)

Number of Pages:  32

Ages:  2 to 6

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2 thoughts on “#156 – Birthday Suit by Olive Senior

    • If you lived in the Caribbean, by a water water coast, you might have. I probably would have.
      Actually, I may have done that at four, only it was a Michigan beach on the lake.
      I don’t do it anymore–not since the last cruise. :-0

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