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Children's Fiction European

Happy Birthday, Alice Babette

by (author) Monica Kulling

illustrated by Qin Leng

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Apr 2016
European, Birthdays
Recommended Age
4 to 8
Recommended Grade
p to 3
Recommended Reading age
4 to 8
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2016
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2016
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Download Student Activity

Where to buy it


It’s Alice’s birthday! A beautiful spring afternoon in Paris — what could be better? Little does she know that her friend has arranged some surprises!

It’s Alice’s birthday! But her friend Gertrude seems to have forgotten. No matter, Alice goes out and enjoys her day just the same. A beautiful spring afternoon in Paris — what could be better? Little does she know that her dear friend has a few surprises up her sleeve.

While Alice spends the day walking around Paris — riding a carousel in the park and watching a puppet show — Gertrude turns her attention to the kitchen. She is determined to make a lavish dinner with all of Alice’s favorite things and write a poem to match the occasion.

But the lure of the perfect poetic line proves to be too distracting, and just as Alice’s day takes an exciting and unexpected turn, Gertrude’s big dinner falls all to pieces. The poem turns out beautifully, of course, but the house is a bit of a mess. It’s a good thing Alice doesn’t mind cleaning up. And that she has such a good brownie recipe for their guests.

Inspired by the lives of artist Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Monica Kulling’s warm and whimsical narration is perfectly balanced by Qin Leng’s bright and energetic illustrations. This is a sweetly joyful story of love, friendship and creative inspiration.

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).

Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.

About the authors

Monica Kulling is the author of over forty books for children, including the popular Great Idea series, stories of inventors. The third book in the series, In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up, was nominated for the 2012 Governor General’s Award for illustration and chosen as the 2012 Simon Wiesenthal Honor Book. In addition, Monica’s work has been nominated for numerous Silver Birch Express and Golden Oak awards. Her recent picture books include Lumpito and the Painter from Spain and Mister Dash and the Cupcake Calamity. Monica Kulling lives in Toronto, Canada. Visit her at

Monica Kulling's profile page

Qin Leng was born in Shanghai, China. At the age of five, she moved with her family to Bordeaux, France, where she spent the next four years. Soon after, she moved to Montreal, where she spent the rest of her childhood. Having been born in Asia but raised in the West, she uses both cultures as her source of inspiration. Looking at her illustrations, one can see the presence of both East and West.Qin Leng comes from a family of artists, where the visual senses have always been of the utmost importance. She grew up watching her father work with acrylics, pastel, and ink. Father and daughter often spent their days drawing side by side. Drawing first started as a hobby, but soon became a way of expression.Despite her many years of study to become a biologist, Qin decided at the age of 20 to follow the same path as her father and enrolled in the School of Cinema to study Film Animation at Concordia University. She has produced animated shorts, which were nominated in various nationa

Qin Leng's profile page


  • Commended, Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices List
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Children and Teens

Editorial Reviews

A rose is a rose, and loving friendship is loving friendship, as this sweet celebration makes clear.

Kirkus Reviews

[P]rovides an enchanting glimpse into the Parisian life of the two women and their fondness for each other and life in general.

CanLit for Little Canadians

Leng’s airy ink drawings bring just the right chic Parisian energy to this odd-couple story.

Publishers Weekly

The cartoonish, fine-lined ink illustrations . . . capture the sunny energy of a Paris springtime.


[A] sweetly joyful story of love, friendship and creative inspiration.

The Canadian Children's Book Centre

Author Monica Kulling and illustrator Qin Leng invite the imagination into Gertrude and Alice’s world through a tender fictionalized day in the couple’s real life. … The sweetness and sincerity of their love rises above the language and radiates from the story itself.

Brain Pickings

[G]ive[s] kids a sense of what respect looks and feels like without ever resorting to the word itself.

Quill & Quire

This rendition of the domestic arrangements of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas is charming and funny, due in no small part to Leng’s light colours, loose lines and gently comic sense of character.

Toronto Star

[A] birthday surprise upturned and righted is always cause for delight.

School Library Journal

All . . . can enjoy Qin Leng's air ink and digital-color illustrations of April in Paris and the affectionately funny portrait of a legendary friendship.

The Horn Book

[T]he most palatable parts of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas’s lives provide rich inspiration for this charming story of friendship.

Globe and Mail

Other titles by Monica Kulling

Other titles by Qin Leng