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Children's Fiction Cats

The Birthday Girl

by (author) Jean Little

illustrated by June Lawrason

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
Apr 2004
Cats, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Birthdays
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2004
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2004
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 6 to 8
  • Grade: 1 to 3
  • Reading age: 6 to 8


Nell makes two wishes on her birthday, but the next day they show little sign of coming true. Everyone in her household is busy and wants her out from underfoot and no one is willing to help her find her lost cat. In the end she finds more than a cat, and she makes her own wishes come true with the help of a row of tall, bright, smiling sunflowers.

About the authors

Jean Little was born in Taiwan in 1932. Her parents were both doctors. Jean grew up in Ontario and graduated from the University of Toronto. She was born with a severe eye problem and is severely visually impaired. A special "talking" computer assists her with her writing. She has a retired seeing-eye dog named Ritz and a new one named Pippa, with whom she travels. The author focuses on her experiences from the time she was a child through young adulthood in her autobiography, Little by Little, and continues her story in Stars Come Out Within. The books, which will appeal to children 10 and older, are both humorous and poignant as Jean describes living with a disability and the ridicule she sometimes experienced as a result, as well as her love for the world of reading and books. Jean's books include From Anna, Listen for the Singing, Stand In The Wind, Mama's Going To Buy You a Mockingbird, Hey World, Here I Am!, Look through My Window, Emma's Yucky Brother, The Belonging Place, and Mine For Keeps. Listen for the Singing was the Canada Council Children's Literature Award winner in 1977. Mama's Going to Buy You a Mockingbird was the CLA Book of the Year in 1985.
Jean Little's first book, Mine for Keeps, won the Little, Brown Children's Book Award in 1962 and was republished by Viking Penguin in 1995. It tells the story of Sally Copeland, a 10 year old with cerebral palsy, and her adjustment to being home after spending several years in a special school. You'll find that several of the themes in this book appear in a number of the author's other books: dealing with a handicap and the responses of others, fitting in, and adjusting to new situations and surroundings.


Jean Little's profile page

A teacher of illustration for children’s books at both the Ontario College of Art and Design and Ryerson University, June Lawrason has published several other books, including The Toymaker, Amanda’s Bear and Zoo Food, and Sarah’s Secret.

June Lawrason's profile page


  • Commended, CCBC Our Choice

Editorial Reviews

"The gentle, heart-warming tone of this slim tale assures even quite young readers that all will be well eventually."

Resource Links

"Master writer Jean Little has created another lively, likeable heroine in Nell."

"Non-stop action, plenty of character revealing dialogue, and a protagonist who persists until she solves her own problems will hold the reader's attention."

"Highly recommended."

CM Magazine

"The combination of good writing and innocent charm makes this a fine choice for early readers."


"The story stresses the love and generosity involved in the giving and receiving of gifts. Young readers in our consumer-driven society will find refreshing relief in the dressed-up sunflowers and new kittens."

Canadian Literature

"Jean Little's chapter book has wide contemporary appeal."

"This is an excellent choice for young fans of historical fiction, and for teachers or librarians looking for a good fit with an early Canadian prairie theme."

"Highly recommended."

Canadian Book Review Annual

Other titles by Jean Little

Other titles by June Lawrason

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