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Mama's Birthday Surprise

Image of Elizabeth Spurr's book, Mama's Birthday Surprise".  

Written by Elizabeth Spurr
Illustrated by Felipe Davalos
ISBN: 0-7868-1124-2 -Paperback
Ages 8-9 - 57 pages

The Best Children's Books of the Year 1998, selected by the Children's Committee at Bank Street College

Pepe and his brother and sister love to hear stories about wealthy Uncle César, who lives in a faraway place called the "Mountain of Gold." Mama has always reassured them that if the family is ever in serious trouble, she can call on their kindly uncle and he will come to their rescue with "a bushel basket full of pesos."

But is there a real Uncle César? When hard times hit, Mamá alone pulls the family through. Her stories seem true, but they do change a little bit each time she tells them. And could anyone really be as kind, generous, and hardworking as the person in those stories?

When the kids concoct a plan to reunite Mamá with their long lost uncle César, the mysterious family hero turns out to be the biggest (and best) surprise of all.

I knew my father only as the handsome man in the wedding photo Mamá kept beside her bed. "When Papá brought me to the States," said Mamá, "Uncle César became very angry. He became even more angry when, after Papá's death, I would not return with you to Mexico. But do not fear, mis hijos," she assured us. "Uncle César loves us dearly. He will always take care of his family. Ah, yes. If we were ever in need, I would only have to say the word. He would send us a bushel basket full of pesos." But somehow Mamá never said the word.

Like the hero in this story, Elizabeth Spurr experienced the joys and struggles of raising a close-knit family of five on her own. As a widow, Elizabeth developed a keen appreciation for the importance of inspiring role models and the value of common family goals. Written with wit, imagination, and heart, Mama's Birthday Surprise celebrates a family's shared experiences of happiness, self-sacrifice, discovery, and growth. Elizabeth's previous books include The Long, Long Letter, The Gumdrop Tree, and Lupe and Me.

Felipe Davalos was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. Drawing upon memories of childhood experiences, he was able to create richly detailed scenes. Married, with two children, Felipe was also inspired by the message of family unity as personified by the story's warmly realistic, contemporary Hispanic family. A resident of Mexico City, Mexico, this is his first book for Hyperion Books for Children.


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