Cover image for Three cheers for Catherine the Great!
Three cheers for Catherine the Great!
Best, Cari.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : DK Pub., 1999.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm
Sara's Russian grandmother has requested that there be no presents at her seventy-eighth birthday party so Sara must think of a gift from her heart.
Reading Level:
AD 360 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.2 0.5 34564.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.6 2 Quiz: 20919.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



When Sara's grandma, Catherine the Great, suddenly announces, "This year for my birthday, I want no presents! I have music in my Russian bones, and laughing in my heart. I have the day and the night, and I have all of you, " Sara is surprised. How can Grandma have a birthday party with no presents?"Her mama explains that a No Present can be anything from a kiss or a hug to a game of gin rummy -- as long as it comes from deep inside you. But what kind of No Present would be good enough for Catherine the Great? Mr. Minsky, Monica and her dad, Mary Caruso and her baby, Mimmo, already have good ideas. But it isn't until Sara is surrounded by Grandma's bundles of Russian newspapers and books that she gets her own idea: She will teach Grandma to read and write English. This lively borscht-and-blintzes birthday celebration shows that sometimes No Presents can be the best presents of all.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4^-8. It's not Catherine, empress of Russia, who inspires this charming story of family love, but Best's Russian immigrant grandmother. When Sara's grandmother requests "no presents" for her birthday celebration, Sara is stumped. The neighbors all have ideas, but Sara wants her "no present" to be as special as her grandmother. Seeking inspiration, Sara watches her grandmother cook, play clapping songs with the baby, and read Russian books and newspapers. Suddenly she realizes the perfect "no present": helping Grandmother learn to read and write English. In lively, lyrical prose, Best celebrates a special family relationship, and conveys the unique challenges and joys of an immigrant's new life. The lack of pronunciation guides for the Russian words peppering the text may be an obstacle for read-alouds, but examples of the language are an effective device to illustrate the difficulties of living in a foreign country without being literate its language. Potter's festive, whimsical artwork is an irresistible play of vibrant colors and patterns, filled with rich detail and diverse, expressive characters. Kids may also be inspired and reassured by Best's realistic examples of a "no present"--heartfelt gifts that need not be tangible or costly to be appreciated, useful, and cherished. --Shelle Rosenfeld

Publisher's Weekly Review

Best (Last Licks) and Potter (When Agnes Caws) join their considerable talents for a not-to-be-missed borscht-and-blintzes birthday party for a hardworking Russian grandmother. The tenants in Sara's apartment building have all been invited to Grandma Catherine's party, and Grandma has insisted there be no presents. Sara (along with the neighbors) decides to study Grandma so she can think up the perfect "no present." Over the course of the week, Grandma plays a Russian clapping song to quiet Mary Caruso's baby, Mimmo; bakes a sardine pie for Mr. Minsky's cat; and listens as Sara recites her poems. Best's folksy tale is freckled with offbeat imagery (an "alphabet moon" describes a C-shaped crescent) and appealing human and animal characters. Potter's delectably skewed watercolors extend the intimacy of Best's narrative and capture the tender bond between Sara and Grandma. Patterns of flowers and stripes, stars and polka dots run riot on dresses, rugs and even Grandma's underpants ("as big as tents and as loud as six firecrackers on the Fourth of July"). Such details as Russian nesting dolls, Grandma's "saving jars" and short Russian phrases followed by their English equivalents, contrasting with the contemporary lifestyles of the building residents, heighten the sense of two worlds harmoniously coexisting. Three cheers indeed! Ages 4-8. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-5-Sara narrates this story about her grandmother, who came to the U.S. from Russia many years ago and is nicknamed Catherine the Great. When Grandma insists that she wants "no presents" for her birthday this year, Sara, her mother, and their neighbors all seek the perfect NO PRESENT. On the night of the party, Mary Caruso sings a love song in Russian, Mr. Minsky shares a waltz with Grandma, Mama presents her with their "coming-to-America picture" in a frame, and-best of all-Sara promises to teach her to read and write in English. Potter goes into as much detail in her watercolor illustrations as Best suggests in her text, with humorous spot and full-page paintings in warm tones that capture the celebratory mood of the story. When Grandma speaks in Russian, there's no pronunciation guidance for the Cyrillic text so those who want to read this aloud will need to do a little extra research; however, a note from the author explains that she wanted to "give a sense of the difference between Catherine's language and Sara's." Because of the pacing of the narrative and the detail in the pictures, this long picture book begs to be taken slowly; readers will be rewarded with an endearing portrayal of a family, a neighborhood, and a "Great" person.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.