“A unique birthday book offering imagination and sibling love with a bittersweet touch.”
As a young girl happily celebrates her second birthday, her older brother promises her that while turning two is “terrific,” the real magic comes at age three, when she’ll meet a wise wizard who can take her to the moon. But when she turns three, her brother says the wizard “had to flee”; however, turning four, he says, is even better because she’ll meet an elf. When she turns four and there’s no elf, the brother promises a dragon at five, a princess fairy at six, and so on. Each year, when the promised magic is nowhere to be found, the brother says the two of them can play together in the meantime, mirroring the activities she would have enjoyed with the magical visitor. Though his efforts create a tender moment of sibling compassion, they’re overshadowed by the fact that he set her up for disappointment in the first place. Ultimately, the dual lessons that every year just gets better and better and to enjoy the present even while waiting for a future event make this a unique, worthwhile addition to birthday books. Ballenger demonstrates skill in both rhyming—making this a very fun read aloud—and pacing—which picks up at just the right moment, while Aguilera’s illustrations excellently reflect the fanciful childhood imaginings of magical creatures and capture the loving sibling relationship, which culminates in two wrinkled faces behind a birthday cake: the woman smiling shrewdly at the man shows that the two have indeed made “so much magic . . . through every passing year.”
Allison Ione Ballenger has always loved silly stories. Growing up as the youngest of three children, she was the perfect audience for her older siblings’ hijinks and tall tales. They taught her to always be on the lookout for magic, which is a gift she hopes to pass along to her readers today. Allison holds a BA in literature from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She currently lives in Cary, North Carolina.