Happy Birthday to You, You Belong in a Zoo

Picture Book

Bibliographic Information: deGroat, Diane. Happy Birthday to You, You Belong in a Zoo. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1999.

Plot Description:
Gilbert is invited to the birthday party of a person who teases him at school. The boy’s mom made him invite all the boys in his class. Gilbert does not want to attend, until he realizes he can give the other boy a bad gift in retribution. He picks out a frying pan as a gift, ignoring the space ship. Gilbert has a fun time at the party, but becomes nervous when all the other presents are good gifts. It turns out Gilbert’s mom had gotten the space ship as the gift! When he gets home, his mom says that she may have given him the wrong present, because his dad is using the brand new frying pan. Gilbert says that she gave him the right gift after all.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile: 350; Accelerated Reader: 3.0

Qualitative Reading Analysis:
This book is written in third-person, focusing on Gilbert’s feelings on attending the birthday party. It has text on almost every page, ranging from one sentence to a few paragraphs. The illustrations compliment the text well.

Content Area: English, Friendship, Feelings

Content Area Standard:

  • CCSS for Literature for K-5: #2 Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson; #4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language; #7 Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story; #10 Read and comprehend literature in grade level text complexity range.
  • CCSS for Informational Text for K-5: #2 Identify the main topic and retell key details of a text; #7 Explain how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text.
  • CCSS for Foundational Skills for K-5:  #4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Curriculum suggestions:
This is a great modern book to use in English Language Arts Curriculum. It is best suited to 2nd grade through 4th grade. It explores themes like friendship and family.

Character Diversity:
All characters are anthropomorphized animals, but range in fur from white through browns.


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