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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Baja Brody and the Birthday Surprise: Baja Brody Adventures is a children’s picture book written by Christina Willis and illustrated by Ralph Thomas. In his imagination, young Baja Brody is an extraordinary racing car driver whose exploits in the desert on his dune buggy are the stuff of legend. His co-pilot and faithful companion, Doodles, is always right there along with him on all of his adventures. The magic stops, however, when his mom calls Brody in for lunch and a nap. After lunch, Brody and Doodles are settled in for a nap and Brody’s starting to dream about racing when he realizes that he’s forgotten something very important. It’s Doodles’ third birthday today, and Brody has hidden something very special for him, but he needs his keys to get to it. The big problem now is where are those keys?
Christina Willis’ children’s picture book, Baja Brody and the Birthday Surprise, is great fun for adults and kids alike. Willis’ story is fast-paced and entertaining, and the rhyme schemes make it read quite nicely. She’s also an intuitive master at sharing with the reader the breadth and power of a kid’s imagination. Ralph Thomas’ illustrations work perfectly with the story. Each panel is brightly colored and filled with action and detail. I especially like the shadowy images that appear in some panels that seem to bridge the world of the imagination with the duller one where most adults reside. Baja Brody and the Birthday Surprise is perfect for story time sessions, but it's also an excellent choice for new readers. It’s highly recommended.