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Arthur's Birthday
Arthur's Birthday Book
Author Marc Brown
Illustrator Marc Brown
Publication date May 1, 1989
Published by Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 0316110744
Publication Order
Preceded by
Arthur's Baby (1987)
Followed by
Arthur's Pet Business (1990)

Arthur's Birthday is the thirteenth book in the Arthur Adventure series. It was first published on May 1, 1989, by Little, Brown and Company and was later adapted as a TV episode in 1996.


On Tuesday, May 21, Arthur Read is writing invitations to his friends at Lakewood Elementary School and can't wait for his birthday coming up, which is Saturday, May 25. Grandma Thora asks him what kind of cake he wants her to bake, and he suggests chocolate. His mother, Jane wishes him to have a good day at school, and his sister D.W. reminds him not to forget to hand out his invitations to his friends.

At school, Arthur is handing out his invitations to his friends. Francine Frensky asks if they would like to play a game called Spin the Bottle. Arthur asks his friend Muffy Crosswire if she would like to come to his birthday party, and she responds and wonders when it is, and Arthur says his birthday party is Saturday afternoon. Arthur then learns that he and Muffy both have the same birthday, and Muffy had planned it on the same day, but he suggests that Muffy should change her party to another day, but she refuses. Then other kids wonder if they should go to Arthur's birthday party, or Muffy's instead.

The next day on Wednesday, May 22, the boys: Arthur, Buster Baxter, the Brain, and Binky Barnes meet together and decide that they should stick together and just go to Arthur's party, but Arthur suggests that they need the girls, too. Buster says that they don't need the girls. After lunch, the girls: Muffy, Francine, Sue Ellen Armstrong, Fern Walters, and Prunella Deegan went out to the playground and then Muffy teased the other girls by saying that she might stop being friends with someone who doesn't go to her party. Francine says that a party would be boring without any of the boys.

The following day on Thursday, May 23, after school, Arthur and Jane went out to the Fairwood Party to buy party decorations. At home, a delivery man brought in a big brown box, and D.W. suggests that it weighs over a ton. Then Arthur found three letters in the mail and carried them in: one was from Uncle Bud and three dollar bills fell out when he opened the card.

Friday, May 24, after school, Arthur ran to catch up with Francine. He was wishing that she could come to his birthday party. She told him she promised Muffy, but wished she could go to both parties, and finds it boring to go to a party without boys. Arthur found an idea, and he whispered to Francine the suggestion, and she agreed to help out. Then they went to the tree house and found pencils, papers, and envelopes to write notes. Francine suggests that the handwriting should look like Muffy's. Arthur then suggests to make sure there are notes for all the girls.

The next morning, Saturday, May 25, Arthur and Francine went to deliver the invitations: One for Prunella, another for Sue Ellen, and another for Fern. The last one was a special note for Muffy and it said: Dear Muffy, I have a special present for you. It is so big, I can't carry it by myself. Please come to my house at noon to get it. Sincerely, Arthur. Back at home, Arthur's father David and Aunt Bonnie were making pancakes with maple syrup that Aunt Bonnie brought from Ohio. His cousin, George wished him a "happy birthday". Jane was giving Arthur birthday kisses, and Thora was giving Arthur eight birthday hugs, and D.W. suggested them not to forget "a pinch to grow an inch".

Arthur then looks out the window and sees his friends coming to his house. The first to come was Sue Ellen. The next people coming were Fern, Prunella, Buster, and the Brain. The next two to come in were Francine and Binky. When it was noon, Arthur told all his friends to find a place to hide, because Muffy will arrive any minute. Then Muffy arrives at the door, and Muffy tells everyone she arrived to pick up her birthday present. Then everyone shouts "SURPRISE!" and Arthur then wishes Muffy a "Happy Birthday!". Arthur tells Muffy her present was too big to carry. Then Arthur asks everyone what a party would look like without all their friends. Then they celebrate the party for Arthur and Muffy. Muffy says it was a great party, and that they should do it every year. Jane suggests that next year, they will do it at the Crosswire residence. Francine then tells Arthur it is time to open presents. Francine makes a promise to him that he will use it right away. Arthur is excited, and when he opens it, it is revealed to be a Spin the Bottle game. And once again, they wish "Happy Birthday!" to Arthur.



  • The calendar which shows that May 25 is on a Saturday is the same layout as the 1985 calendar, approximately four years before the book was published.
  • In this book, the tree house that was seen in the past books became redesigned with a taller tree, more steps, and a more direct entry than entering from one side to another.
  • This is the final Arthur book to be published in the 1980s decade.
  • In July 2023, a parent and conservative activist, named Bruce Friedman, submitted a formal challenge to have the book removed from libraries in Florida's Clay County School District, because he objected to the fact that the book references the "Spin the Bottle" game and is not appropriate for elementary age children. This was one of at least eight complaints filed by Friedman.[1][2] In August 2023, the oversight committee found that the book did not violate any school board laws, and it will remain in the school libraries.[3]


  • Arthur's Birthday was adapted into a Living Books computer game by Brøderbund for Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh in 1994. However, it was re-released a number of times to become compatible with the later operating systems such as Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Mac OS 8, Mac OS 9, and etc. Many of these games also included a book in the packaging. However, in the game, there were many color tone restrictions where many of the characters had their complexions restricted between pale and tan. However, some pages were based on more than just one page, and some of the text was omitted, modified, or only heard during a following of sequences. There were many things that could be clicked on and performed that never happened in the book. Unlike the book, Muffy did not have any buck teeth, and it was first time Muffy was shown without buck teeth, although it was not an official change until the middle of Season 1 of the animated TV show, which also had Muffy's buck teeth removed for the books as well. On the page where Arthur and his mother go shopping, the principal, Mr. Haney was seen on that page, but did not appear in the book, and would transform into Bionic Bunny when clicked on and transform back into his true form afterwards. On the page where Arthur and Francine deliver notes, the Crosswires' mailbox is seen in Arthur's neighborhood, despite being in a different neighborhood in the book. The publisher, Brøderbund was acquired by The Learning Company in 2003, which set for a discontinuation of the Living Books series.