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A special birthday celebration:
Harold Snipperpot's Best Disaster Ever

In Montessori education birthdays have a very special place. They are particularly meaningful events where the child is helped to remember his journey from birth to that specific moment in the classroom. Many Montessori schools use some form of a sun, with rays made with tags with the months, a candle, and a globe to help show the passage of time and the growth of the child, sometimes with the help of photos and memories.

It's like a small ceremony to cherish that one very important day and to help the child build self-awareness.
That's why I was quite instantly intrigued by Alemagna's latest book when I first heard about it months ago as it was published in Italian, and I was really looking forward to the English edition.
Although Harold Snipperpot's birthday party has nothing to do with the routine and understatement of a Montessori ceremony, Alemagna does celebrate birthdays, writing an utterly fun and freeing story, digging into children's dreams and fears, and showing once again a great capacity to come to their level and to understand and connect with the world of childhood.

Harold is about to turn seven and he never had a birthday party. His parents don't like partying and they also are stiff, unloving figures.
So when for her birthday he asks for a proper birthday party to relieve his sadness, they ask Mr Ponzio to organise an unforgettable one, one that can make Harold happy.
Since the child has no friends, a parade of animals will invade the Snipperpot's home, finally pouring into the streets of Paris and changing their life forever.

We particularly liked the structure of the story, as events build up to the climax at a fast pace, combined with Alemagna's signature illustrations, rich in detail to explore.  Her art reveals once again her known interest in interior design (Beatrice's father was an architect): in this book the space, the location are a living character alongside humans and animals, which we can tell she totally enjoyed to draw here for the first time.

And then there's the theme of the disaster, which resonates so well with little ones.
Small and big disasters are everywhere in childhood, as children often learn from them. Disasters that grown ups are so busy preventing and often punishing. 
There's the liberation that comes from the mess and from the healthy releasing energy and emotions. Something children desperately need to thrive, although they are too often asked to suppress behind all our 'Don't cry'-'You are making a mess'-'Don't run/jump'-'Calm down'.
What's best, disasters are contagious and freeing for adults as well, and the Snipperpot are finally filled with life and love as a couple and as a family.

My daughter really enjoyed this book and I truly enjoyed reading it to her, as we obviously ended up planning her own birthday party, which will have to be the best ever.

Italian readers can enjoy a lovely interview to Beatrice about her latest book here
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Written & Illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna
English-language edition published by Thames&Hudson
Italian Edition published by Topipittori
Reading age: 3+
Themes: Birthday, Growing up, Learning about emotions




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