Let the Party Begin! 12 Books Celebrating Special Occasions

By Jennifer Rothschild, Collection Engagement Librarian, Arlington Public Library

Parties are a great time to connect with friends and family and meet new people. These books explore all types of parties and the feelings that surround them, from uninvited guests and weather-related disasters to making new friends and how a good event can help change the world.

Picture Books

 

“It Was Supposed to Be Sunny” written and illustrated by Samantha Cotterill

Laila has plans and charts for everything, especially her upcoming birthday party. But the weather doesn’t cooperate, and doing the obstacle course inside results in a cake disaster. Laila is ready to cancel the party, but some helpful ideas from her mom and a few quiet minutes spent with her therapy dog allow her to enjoy the big day. While the hints in the story and the included back matter will be helpful for kids with sensory processing disorders, anxiety, or autism (like Laila), they will also be useful for any kid who wants a special day to be perfect.

It Was Supposed to Be Sunny
“It Was Supposed to Be Sunny”

 

“Your Birthday Was the Best!” by Maggie Hutchings, illustrated by Felicita Sala

A cockroach is having the best time enjoying all the games and festivities at a young child’s birthday party until he wears himself out with all the excitement and falls asleep on the birthday cake. Luckily, everyone is so excited to see him that their screams wake him up so he can have more fun. Young readers will love the cockroach’s sunny attitude about the best birthday party, even if he is not a welcome guest.

Your Birthday Was the Best!
“Your Birthday Was the Best!”

 

“Going Up!” by Sherry J. Lee, illustrated by Charlene Chua

Olive’s birthday party is on the 10th floor of June’s apartment building. She and her dad, along with a platter of fresh-baked cookies, get in the elevator. At every floor, the elevator stops to let in more people. The excitement for the party builds and builds as more people pack in until they finally reach the top of the building. This book’s final spread reveals everyone spilling out of the elevator to celebrate the guest of honor.

Going Up!
“Going Up!”

 

 

Beginning Readers

 

“Cupcake Fix: A Branches Book” (Layla and the Bots #3) by Vicky Fang, illustrated by Christine Nishiyama

In this third adventure, Layla (inventor and rock star) is helping with the grand opening celebration of the new community center. The mayor is worried that attendance will be low. She and her robots build a cupcake machine to help attract a crowd. Delicious hijinks ensue in this fun series that weaves in STEAM concepts and includes at-home activities for readers to try for themselves.

“Cupcake Fix: A Branches Book” (Layla and the Bots #3)
“Cupcake Fix: A Branches Book” (Layla and the Bots #3)

 

“We Will Find Your Hat!: A Conundrum!” written and illustrated by Candy James

Fox cousins Reddie and Archie are back in this early-reader graphic novel. It’s Hat Day, the hattiest day of the year, but when Reddie goes to pick up Archie, Archie can’t find his hat. The two must search through piles and piles of Archie’s belongings to find the missing hat. Will they be able to find it in time for the party? A silly read with a lot of visual clues and jokes, this light mystery is one beginning readers will love. It also works as a read-aloud book.

“We Will Find Your Hat!: A Conundrum!”
“We Will Find Your Hat!: A Conundrum!”

 

“A Whale of a Tea Party” by Erica S. Perl, illustrated by Sam Ailey

Whale is having a tea party with her friends Lumpo, Bob and Grumpy Gus. As much as she likes her friends, they’re rocks. They can’t answer when she asks if they want more tea. But when Quail and Snail arrive, Whale invites them to join the party, turning it into the “best day ever.”

“A Whale of a Tea Party”
“A Whale of a Tea Party”

 

 

Middle-grade Books

 

“Best. Night. Ever.: A Story Told from Seven Points of View” by Rachele Alpine, Ronni Arno, Alison Cherry, Stephanie Faris, Jen Malone, Gail Nall and Dee Romito

It’s the night of the big middle school dance. Seven students all have different plans relating to the dance, whether they’re going or not, or even in the band. Each chapter follows a different student, and is written by a different author, over the course of the dance as funny antics and friendship drama make for an unforgettable night.

“Best. Night. Ever.: A Story Told from Seven Points of View”
“Best. Night. Ever.: A Story Told from Seven Points of View”

 

“PhilanthroParties!: A Party-Planning Guide for Kids Who Want to Give Back” by Lulu Cerone

This hands-on guide is full of step-by-step instructions for tweens wishing to use social events for a good cause. When she was 10 years old, author Lulu Cerone organized a lemonade-stand competition to raise money for Haitian earthquake relief. The event was very successful and a lot of fun, so she started throwing more events to raise funds and awareness of different causes. With three events for each month of the year, this guide has everything young philanthropists need to get started.

“PhilanthroParties!: A Party-Planning Guide for Kids Who Want to Give Back”
“PhilanthroParties!: A Party-Planning Guide for Kids Who Want to Give Back”

 

“It’s My Party and I Don’t Want to Go” by Amanda Panitch

Ellie has always hated crowds and being the center of attention, but now they’re making it hard to breathe. She’s terrified of her upcoming bat mitzvah, so she’ll try anything to stop it from happening, except for talking to her parents about her panic and anxiety. From hiding the invitations to trying to fake her own death, Ellie’s antics grow out of control until she has even bigger problems than the bat mitzvah. Full of humor and heart, Ellie will need to discover there’s more to becoming an adult than learning your Torah portion.

“It’s My Party and I Don’t Want to Go”
“It’s My Party and I Don’t Want to Go”

 

 

Teens

 

“Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions” by Navdeep Singh Dhillon

After his older brother dies, Sunny finds his journal and decides to continue writing in it, making a list of uncharacteristically rash decisions, such as cutting his hair and shaving his beard (visible markers of his Sikh faith) and going to prom (even though it’s the same night as his brother’s barsi, which honors his death anniversary). When some friends try to coax him away from prom to a fan convention instead, the rash decisions keep coming in a fast-paced night that perfectly balances the madcap adventures while exploring Sunny’s underlying grief.

“Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions”
“Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions”

 

“10 Truths and a Dare” by Ashley Elston

Olivia has everything planned out—she’s aced her AP exams and set to graduate as class salutatorian and attend LSU where she has her double major already picked. Unfortunately, she’s failed her physical education class, and if she doesn’t make it up quickly, graduation isn’t going to happen. She can volunteer at a local gold tournament, but only if her cousins agree to stand in for her at all the events happening during senior party week so that her parents and older relatives don’t find out. She’s not going to let things like her shaky grasp of golf stand in her way in this engaging tale full of humor and witty banter.

“10 Truths and a Dare”
“10 Truths and a Dare”

 

“The Jasmine Project” by Meredith Ireland

Jasmine’s family always knew that her boyfriend was no good for her, but when they finally break up, she’s not interested in meeting any of the guys they think she should be with. They decide that her graduation party is a great time for a secret Bachelor-style series of setups. They even have a podcast. In this romantic comedy, everyone in Jasmine’s large family has an opinion, but they all ultimately have Jasmine’s best interest at heart. They’re determined to get Jasmine the love she deserves, but only if their plans don’t backfire.

“The Jasmine Project”
“The Jasmine Project”

About Jennifer Rothschild

Jennifer Rothschild is the collection engagement librarian at Arlington Public Library.

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