Ever since discovering the series about Jenny, a cute black cat, I’ve been trying to read every book featuring her. My most recent selection by Esther Averill was Jenny’s Birthday Book. It’s largest appeal lay in my familiarity with the characters and settings, as well as how it could inspire writing ideas.
Naturally, I’m familiar with the main character, the shy Jenny. Then there’s also her brothers, whom I learned in Jenny and the Cat Club had initially made Jenny jealous. For that reason, they almost didn’t stay with Jenny and the Captain. I enjoyed meeting them again. Then there are the twins who have a birthday present for Jenny that she can’t open until all the invited cats reach the park. Next up is Pickles, the famous fire cat whom I first met in an I Can Read book. He picks up the party invitees on his red fire truck. And there’s quite the crew, let me tell you, so many cats in fact that I kept counting their numbers with each new page I turned.
Naturally, I also know the setting, that of New York City. From Jenny’s yard, one can see the cityscape. We’re also told by Averill that the cats are headed to a park to celebrate Jenny’s birthday and that this park is in a busy part of the city. Jenny and her brothers scamper through streets and watch for traffic lights. They pass a flower shop and a fish stop. The next stop is the fire house. After that, all adventures happen in a certain red fire truck, including that of speeding with the siren on through the city streets. Finally, all the cats gather in the park, where all the birthday festivities begin.
When I started thinking about what to say about Jenny’s Birthday Book, I began to imagine how it could inspire pet memoirs. Averill based Jenny on her own cat. What if you or the young person in your life were to write about your pet’s birthday or other holidays that you celebrate together? How different or the same would this tale look? With every writing club, I always share a story of how my Lucy cat got lost one day. Without fail, at least one if not many, of my students are now inspired to tell their own lost pet stories.
There’s nothing exceptional that happens in Jenny’s Birthday Book. Averill simply tells of a warm-hearted and cheerful gathering of friends. But, the story has a calming feel. Therein, lies its charm and sweetness. It’s should go on your shelves, right next to Jenny and the Cat Club.
My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.
How would you rate this book?