Birthday Suit by Olive Senior, paintings by Eugenie Fernandes c.2012, Annick Press $8.95 US & Canada 32 pages
The swimsuit that Mama got you for this summer is the best one ever.
It’s your favorite color, first of all. It fits just right, not too tight on your tummy and not too saggy in the bottom. It’s perfect for making sandcastles on the beach and sprinkler runs in the yard. Yep, you have a new swimsuit and you love to wear it.
If you can remember back, though, there was one swimsuit you were born with and it was great — but not everyone wanted to see it. In the new book Birthday Suit by Olive Senior, illustrations by Eugenie Fernandes, a little boy enjoys showing off his own tan-colored suit.
More than anything in the world, three-year-old Johnny liked to run around without any clothes on. He liked it because the weather was warm, and he liked to wake up every morning and run down to the beach to poke his toes into the ocean and say “Hello” to the sea. He’d known the ocean since he was a little baby. They were old friends, and the fishes didn’t mind what he wore (or didn’t wear).
But Johnny’s mother said Johnny was getting to be way too old to run around with no clothes. Being naked was OK for babies, but Johnny was a big boy. She bought him some fancy red swim trunks, and they were just right for a kid like him.
But the second Mama wasn’t watching, off came the fancy red swim trunks and Johnny was back in the ocean, wearing nothing but sand and water.
Johnny’s mother said that wouldn’t do.
She tried everything — bows and buttons, strips and zips and rrrrrrrrripping stuff, strings and things that tie — but Johnny could wiggle out of any kind of clothes she put on him. And that’s what he did, until Mama brought home a pair of overalls. They snapped on tight and they made Johnny cry. Even the fish hated those overalls. Even the ocean hated them, so Johnny figured out a way to escape.
But then Johnny’s dad had an idea. It was a big idea, a reaching-for-the-mangoes idea, a going-to-school idea that made overalls and red fancy swim trunks feel absolutely perfect to a growing-up boy…
Got a kid who likes to get his undies in a bundle, as long as he doesn’t have to wear them? Then this really cute book is a must-have in your house.
Every toddler who’s ever peeled off his clothes and raced through the room will love this story because author Olive Senior’s mischievous main character also knows the freedom of frolicking in the foam without his pants. I was charmed by this little book and its gentle lesson, and I loved the colorful illustrations by artist Eugenie Fernandes, which help to underscore it.
Yes, this book is tasteful, it’s cute, and though it’s meant for three- to five-year-old streakers, I think it’ll make adults smile, too. If your child needs to just hold his britches, Birthday Suit will suit him just fine.