Chloe’s Birthday…And Me


By Giselle Potter

Atheneum Books, 2004

As we drove into Le Cerisier — which means “the cherry tree” in French — I squeezed my eyes shut. I wish it were my birthday, I wish it were my birthday, I said in my head over and over. Chloe was too little to even care that it was her birthday, and my birthday was my favorite day of the year — much better than Christmas or Halloween because all the attention is just for you.

Once, on a family camping trip, I became so jealous that my sister had badly hurt her thumb and required my parents’ undivided attention that I accused her of lying. I grabbed her thumb and twisted it as hard as I could. It was indeed broken, and I still feel guilty about the pain I caused her that day. Chloe’s Birthday explores that same sense of blind, consuming jealousy between two sisters. Giselle’s parents (this story is autobiographical) are so excited about celebrating Chloe’s fifth birthday; older sister Giselle, not so much. No fingers broken here, although a bottle of Chloe perfume (my mother used to wear this, too, and I still cherish the scent) is temporarily lost in the sand. I love the truthful tone to the book, which borders on a YA sensibility, and the back flap — a collection of real drawings and study of French vocab words from the “real” young Giselle — is marvelous.

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