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Happy Birthday, Alice Babette

Written by Monica Kulling

Illustrated by Qin Leng

  • 32 Pages
  • 9781554988204
  • 10" x 8.5"
  • from grade PK to grade 3
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Biographical / European
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Holidays & Celebrations / Birthdays



Publication Date April 01, 2016

It’s Alice’s birthday! But her friend Gertrude seems to have forgotten. No matter, Alice goes out and enjoys her day just the same. A beautiful spring afternoon in Paris — what could be better? Little does she know that her dear friend has a few surprises up her sleeve.

While Alice spends the day walking around Paris — riding a carousel in the park and watching a puppet show — Gertrude turns her attention to the kitchen. She is determined to make a lavish dinner with all of Alice’s favorite things and write a poem to match the occasion.

But the lure of the perfect poetic line proves to be too distracting, and just as Alice’s day takes an exciting and unexpected turn, Gertrude’s big dinner falls all to pieces. The poem turns out beautifully, of course, but the house is a bit of a mess. It’s a good thing Alice doesn’t mind cleaning up. And that she has such a good brownie recipe for their guests.

Inspired by the lives of artist Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Monica Kulling’s warm and whimsical narration is perfectly balanced by Qin Leng’s bright and energetic illustrations. This is a sweetly joyful story of love, friendship and creative inspiration.

Selected for the CCBC Best Books for Children and Teens 2016

Selected for the Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices List 2017


Monica Kulling

Monica Kulling is the author of over fifty books for children. Her most recent book is On Our Way to Oyster Bay: Mother Jones and Her March for Children’s Rights, illustrated by Felicita Sala. She has also written the popular Great Idea series, including In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up. Monica’s work has been nominated for many awards, including numerous Silver Birch Express and Golden Oak awards. Her recent picture books include Happy Birthday, Alice Babette, Grant and Tillie Go Walking and The Tweedles Go Electric. Monica Kulling lives in Toronto.

Qin Leng

Qin Leng lives and works as a designer and illustrator in Toronto. She graduated from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and has received many awards for her animated short films and artwork. Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, written by Chieri Uegaki, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, and received the APALA Award for best picture book. Her most recent books include Away, written by Emil Sher, and A Family Is a Family Is a Family, written by Sara O’Leary, which was selected for USBBY’s Outstanding International Books List.


". . . a birthday surprise upturned and righted is always cause for delight." School Library Journal

"Leng’s airy ink drawings bring just the right chic Parisian energy to this odd-couple story." Publishers Weekly

"A rose is a rose, and loving friendship is loving friendship, as this sweet celebration makes clear." Kirkus Reviews

". . . give[s] kids a sense of what respect looks and feels like without ever resorting to the word itself." Quill & Quire

". . . provides an enchanting glimpse into the Parisian life of the two women and their fondness for each other and life in general." CanLit for Little Canadians

". . . the most palatable parts of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas’s lives provide rich inspiration for this charming story of friendship." Globe and Mail

"The cartoonish, fine-lined ink illustrations . . . capture the sunny energy of a Paris springtime." Booklist

"All . . . can enjoy Qin Leng's air ink and digital-color illustrations of April in Paris and the affectionately funny portrait of a legendary friendship." The Horn Book

"This rendition of the domestic arrangements of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas is charming and funny, due in no small part to Leng’s light colours, loose lines and gently comic sense of character." Toronto Star

"Author Monica Kulling and illustrator Qin Leng invite the imagination into Gertrude and Alice’s world through a tender fictionalized day in the couple’s real life. … The sweetness and sincerity of their love rises above the language and radiates from the story itself." Brain Pickings