Review: Karen's Birthday by Ann M Martin & Katy Farina

The latest Baby-Sitter's Little Sister graphic novel is an adaption of Karen's Birthday, the seventh novel in the original series, and the sixth in the graphic novel series. (It appears the series is skipping Karen's Little Sister, though the major plot points are touched upon briefly.) Once again, Karen's struggles of living between two separate and very different families is touched upon. Karen is about to turn seven and each of her families, the little house family and the big house family, are planning two very special events. The only trouble is, Karen doesn't want that. She wants to celebrate her birthday with both of her families. Will her birthday wish come true?

Beautifully illustrated, the novel shows the six, almost seven, year old protagonist dealing with some big issues. On the surface, it seems that Karen is very lucky. Her parent's divorce was amicable, she gets along well with her new stepparents and step siblings and even though one of her homes is much smaller than the other, she always has enough. And therein lies the problem. The adult characters and even some of the teenage ones are unable to see the hidden problems. Staying with one family means leaving the other behind. Sometimes it means miscommunications between her parents and being forgotten--which is illustrated perfectly in a scene where no one comes to collect Karen from a school excursion and the hurt and fear she experienced as a result. And there is the fact that her parents cannot speak to one another without fighting. Those things are not easy for a kid. And Karen's solutions to the problem have a knack of backfiring. Luckily Nannie is on hand to listen to Karen and offer some practical advice that a kid can understand, and she explains why things have to be a certain way.

Overall, this was an interesting read that addresses a big topic in a way that can be understood by the target audience. Even if this isn't something that is relevant to the reader's family situation, it can help them better understand what some of their friends and peers may be experiencing. And, of course, what almost seven year old wouldn't be excited about a birthday?



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