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The Secret Birthday Message
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The Secret Birthday Message

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  708 Ratings  ·  95 Reviews
A message in code starts Tim off on an exciting treasure hunt through a dark cave, an underground tunnel, and other strange places until at the end he finds a happy surprise.
Hardcover, 26 pages
Published September 1st 1991 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 1st 1972)
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Burton Wolfe
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rdg-291
I love Eric Carle books. The illustrations are great. It is about a boy who finds a secret message under his pillow and it is coded with shapes. It is a typical Eric Carle book where the shapes are cut out of the pages giving glimpses of what is behind it. The boy ends up following the directions and finds a puppy for his birthday. Curriculum wise for use in a classroom it would be great for students to make their own secret messages and read them to each other and try to figure them out within ...more
Lisa Vegan
Nov 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: birthday gifts; to teach nature/shapes; kids who like puzzles, dogs, cut out book pages
Loved it! Great for young children for learning shapes and as they’re reading/listening to solve a puzzle to find a (very wonderful) birthday gift.

The illustrations are wonderful. Vibrant colors! Great cut outs on the pages. The shapes are unusual for a shapes book and they’re interesting and pertinent to the story/puzzle. This book is a lot of fun. Some young kids will spend a good deal of time with this one.
Dec 27, 2015 rated it did not like it
One could reasonably say Eric Carle's work is the professional opera of the children's book world: stories that usually don't proceed in linear fashion, but with stunning visuals and lavish production values. The esteemed author-illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouchy Ladybug, and Hello, Red Fox has created another picture book of operatic proportions in The Secret Birthday Message, an innovative piece comparable to the offerings of Simms Taback and Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Pages o ...more
Crystal Marcos
May 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: birthday reads, learning shapes
My husband and I read this to our daughter for her birthday and we enjoyed ourselves. She wanted to read it again, but it was past her bedtime. She was disappointed at first, but quickly moved to excited once she heard we would read it again tomorrow. This is a neat way to teach shapes and following directions. The colors were bright and the cutouts are very fun. It is a unique Eric Carle book. I hadn't heard of this one until it was recommended to me by a friend. Sure glad they shared it with m ...more
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Cute holes and shapes cut in the paper.
Weijia Ren
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When I found this book from the library, the pink house in the middle of the front cover caught my eyes right away. A dark pink house standing in the dark night while there are so many starts in the background. I could see a boy is reading a letter with smile on his face. When I looked up to tittle, the font of the tittle is straight and black . A secret message, and the boy is smiling. This made me want to open the book and find out what is going on.
The book is about a boy who named Tim. Tim f
This book is about a boy who receives a secret birthday message the night before his birthday. He has to decode the secret message to lead him to his birthday gift. The illustration are bright and fun and the book is designed to be interactive with the secret birthday message.

I gave this book 5 stars because it was really fun to read. I was trying to guess what all the symbols stood for in the secret message. The author guides you through the message with pictures and other features until the en
Oct 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: math
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kayla Gephart
Dec 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was really good because it has a theme, of adventure and it's a fun read. The book has sentences with key words that are pictures rather than the actual word. This makes the book more fun for students because they try to figure it out. The pages are also different sizes and cuts. They are not your traditional rectangular page. They are different in terms of the word.
In the book, it is Tim's birthday. He gets the coded message telling him to go to certain places so that he can find his
Caitlin Schoessler
The Secret Birthday Message is an excellent picture book. This book is about is about a boy named Tim who finds a secret message under his pillow on the night before his birthday. The letter is a scavenger hunt through his backyard to find his birthday present. At the end he finds his birthday present with a map on how find his way back. I absolutely loved the illustrations in this book! The illustrations were very similar to the Very Hungry Caterpillar because the pages were made using a method ...more
Mercedes Case
Brief review- This book is about a kid who gets a secret message on his birthday. Its a mystery think that this book would be hard for a read aloud because you have to understand exactly what the shapes mean. I think this would be a good partner read because they could help each other figure out the secret message. This book is also great to read this for a students birthday.

Content area- The content area this could be used in is math. The author uses a lot of shapes in the secret message so yo
Sep 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: kids-books, birthday
I loved Eric Carl books when I was growing up so whenever I find fun Eric Carl books at the library, I pick them up. In honor of my daugther's birthday this weekend, I grabbed this one!

It didn't have much of a plot. What I usually love about Eric Carl books is of course the illustrations. This still had the unique illustrations, but it lacked content. I love that most of his books educate you. One of my favorites is Mister Seahorse and the Very Quiet Cricket.

But I liked the shapes in this one. H
Aug 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A boy went on a "mysterious" journey; in the end, he was surprised by a birthday gift.

The book is engaging and playful, which creates 3D experiences for young readers. They can peek through many shapes as they read the book.

Those shapes mostly come from children's daily lives--sunrise (half circle), staircase (multiple rectangles and a trapezoid), stars, etc.; they are natural, irregular shapes, unlike the typical "perfect" triangles, squares, and circles found in classroom learning.

This book
Amy Forrester
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
On the night before Tim’s birthday he finds a strange and secret message full of cryptic shapes. The message tells him to follow the directions in the letter to find his birthday present. Each of the successive pages features a line of the message that takes Tim closer to his present. Carle uses his signature illustration style along with layered pages to create an intriguing mystery. The final page shows a map of the route Tim takes. I like to read this book forward and then have the kids help ...more
Laura Mincey
This Eric Carle story is different than most of his others in the fact that it has no animals and there isn't really a "mission" in the story. This book would be appropriate to have in your classroom to share with students as they have their birthday. The book takes the child through a type of "maze" throughout the book with cut out shapes in the pages. My favorite part of this book were the illustrations and the word usage that really fires up kids for their special birthday. This wouldn't be a ...more
Christian Houseworth
I love Eric Carle's books! This book is a cute and fun book that allows children to use a combination of words and pictures to get the reader involved in a treasure hunt to see what the surprise at the end of the book is. This book is helpful to teach students about looking for context clues to predict the ending of a story. This book is also helpful with teaching students patterns an sequencing. The illustrations in this book are great and this would be a great book to use for picture walks bec ...more
Mckenzie Quade
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a very cute book. It is interactive for children so they can really use their imaginations to get through this book. It tells the story of a little boy who wakes up and has to do a scavenger hunt to find his birthday present. If students are in need of a break or need to get some energy out, a teacher could also read this book and have students do actions for the words. Maybe as a follow-up activity, a teacher could make their own scavenger hunt around their room for their students to f ...more
Monica Johnson
This story is aimed at (N) nursery aged children. It's about a boy who is on a birthday journey to find his birthday gifts. I gave this book three stars because it wasn't anything too exciting. Very colorful illustration, texture added for an interesting feature for little ones. Different shaped pages gave this book a different flare. My daughter thought it was cute. I thought it was ok. I think this wouldbea cute book for a child to read if they are going to receive a puppy as a gift, just as t ...more
Christina Swain
I love the vivid images that come alive through the pages. This story is about a young boy named Tim. Tim is given a message in code that allows him to go on a fun and exciting extravaganza to figure out the code! He goes through many adventures to find ....... a surprise!

As a teacher, I could use this book as a guide to engage my students with a fun-hands on scavenger hunt activity to find a big and exciting surprise at the end! I am sure that my kids will love it as each of them work together
Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
Great book for squirmy kids, young toddlers. It's a board book, so they will have an easy time turning the pages and because they are die-cut into different shapes, they are more interesting than "regular" book pages. When my son was too antsy to sit through longer books, he liked us to read this faster and faster as we went along, me trying to keep up reading as fast as he could turn the pages.
Regina Castorena
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Tim woke up on his birthday and had a secret message. It had words along with pictures to help solve the mystery. Will Tim find his Birthday gift? Come explore with him as he awaits the sun, follows the route to the rock, went behind and finally through.
Each page is illustrated using lots of shapes and colors of nature. The pages are bright and cut to match the shapes on the birthday message. Simple yet very creative, this book captures the scenic nature of the world around us.
Kristen Lindsay
I loved this book and the how teachers can use this book in different content area. The book effectively teaches geometry (i.e. shapes, spatial sense)
* Students can create their treasure maps to correspond with the one in the story and set up an obstacle course or treasure hunt in the classroom.
* Can be used to teach direction in both mathematics and social studies
* May be one of several good books to read when a student is celebrating a birthday in the classroom
Grade Level(s): K-2
* Teaches geometry (i.e. shapes, spatial sense)
* Students can create their treasure maps to correspond with the one in the story and set up an obstacle course or treasure hunt in the classroom.
* Can be used to teach direction in both mathematics and social studies
* May be one of several good books to read when a student is celebrating a birthday in the classroom
Katelyn Warner
Sep 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, the-arts, math
* Could be used in an Eric Carle unit
-Great illustrations
* Uses math shapes
-Kids can make predictions about what objects the shapes will represent
* Students enjoy the simplicity of the suspense that the book offers
* Has a "map" in the back of the book of what happened throughout the story so that the kids can see the overall picture of what they read.
Ileana Lindner
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: math
PERFECT book for teaching students positional/directional words. This book was exciting to read to my students because it was like an adventure. I taught my students the importance to positional/directional words with this book, because at the end of the adventure, you would need these important words to find your way back home! Beautiful job, again, Mr. Eric Carle!
I had never read this Eric Carle book but I was not surprised at how creative it was! I really like this for teaching shapes or following directions. This book is like a list of directions to reach a final destination, with the ultimate present- A PUPPY! This is cute for any student that likes a little adventure in their reading.
Kamaie Clark
Apr 22, 2013 rated it liked it
This book so unique with eh art work and the way the book is cut and carved though out the story to a surprise ending that just puts a smile on your face. Readers old and young will be more intrigued with each page bringing an exciting aspect to the entire story. A way this book can be used in the classroom is to have student create their own secret message to a friend using codes and clues.
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: children
Shelves: picture-book
I have no objectivity when it comes to Eric Carle books. I love them! This one features not only great illustrations but die cuts to cleverly tell the story of a boy decoding a message to get to his birthday surprise. It was pretty great!
Alexandria Hiam
A small boy follows a strange card's directions to find his birthday surprise. Instead of using words the card gives directions using shapes. Good for lessons in early literacy and about shapes. A nice map of the path he went along at the end.
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Eric Carle (born June 25, 1929) is a children's book author and illustrator, most famous for his book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which has been translated into over 30 languages. Since The Very Hungry Caterpillar was published in 1969, Eric Carle has illustrated more than seventy books, many best sellers, most of which he also wrote, and more than 71 million copies of his books have sold around ...more
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