I Love You For Miles And Miles (Alison Goldberg)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Love You For Miles And Miles, written by Alison Goldberg and illustrated by Mike Yamada, a unique vehicle-themed ode to the love between a mother and child.

A mother bear and her cub (no gender is specified for the latter) have a bond like no other. Her love for her baby is longer than the longest train, whose cars can stretch for miles and miles. It’s faster than the fastest fire truck, rushing to the rescue whenever she’s needed. It’s bigger than the biggest truck, and higher than the highest airplane, and steadier than the steadiest tugboat. And just like the vehicles, it’s always up to the task of helping, protecting, and caring for her little one.

This was pretty darn cute. Motherly love is certainly a theme that has no shortage of picture books, but I liked the twist of using big vehicles to describe a mother’s love – rather than a father’s – to a child of no specific gender. Big vehicle books are often geared towards boys only, and it’s nice that there’s some flexibility here that allows for girls and moms to learn about vehicles while celebrating parental bonds. The illustrations are fine, highlighting the vehicles and the bears’ relationship in visually energetic ways and mostly bright colors. The length is good too, and JJ liked it, so this one is Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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Ella, Queen Of Jazz (Helen Hancocks)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Ella, Queen Of Jazz by Helen Hancocks, the true story of Ella Fitzgerald breaking the color barrier at the Mocambo Club with the help of a famous friend.

In the 1950’s, there was no better blues and jazz singer than Ella Fitzgerald. But there was terrible prejudice in the way of Ella achieving all her dreams as a singer. You see, Ella and her Fellas were not allowed to play in the most popular clubs because they were black. At the fanciest joint in town, Ella was turned away at the door, and she was heartbroken. But Ella was about to receive a very surprising call, thanks to one of the most famous women in Hollywood…

Stylish and sweet, with a fantastic message. For those unfamiliar with the story, SPOILER ALERT: Ella’s advocate was Marilyn Monroe, who was an enormous fan and was incensed to hear that Ella had been turned away from the Mocambo. She called the manager and said that if Ella was booked, she would sit in the front row every night and they could take all the pictures they liked, using her massive notoriety at the time to ensure that Ella got a fair shot at mainstream (read: white) music. It’s a wonderful story of women helping women, and Hancock’s does a fabulous job of telling it. She wisely keeps the focus on Ella until the very end, noting that it was her talent and perseverance had earned her the opportunity, and Monroe’s intervention was simply to force the hand of the racist club policies. Then, she celebrates the real-life friendship between the two, showing little readers that the key to overcoming our differences is by bonding over our similarities. It’s all wrapped up in a beautiful package of simple yet engaging text and colorful period-inspired art. The length is great, and JJ and I both loved it. This one is absolutely Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Where’s Your Hat, Abe Lincoln? (Misti Kenison)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Where’s Your Hat, Abe Lincoln? by Misti Kenison, a board book that introduces notable Civil War-era figures to the smallest bookworms.

Abe Lincoln has lost his hat! He has a very important speech coming up, and he can’t do it without his trusty stovepipe hat. He asks some of his friends to help him look, but they are all very busy: Frederick Douglass is writing a book, Clara Barton is nursing soldiers. Sojourner Truth giving a speech herself, and Thaddeus Stevens is addressing congress. Will Abe find his hat in time to give his speech, and will his friends be there?

Very interesting! Forgiving some anachronistic meetings and timelines – this is a book meant for toddlers, after all, and a more accurate timeline is included in the back – this was a clever way to introduce some big and important names from history to very young readers. The main ideas are extremely simplified, which is occasionally strange (the Gettysburg Address, for instance, was in fact a pretty solemn speech about a gruesome battle and tragic loss of life, which doesn’t quite read here), but mostly does what it intends by introducing names like Harriet Tubman, William Seward, Ulysses S. Grant and so on to little ones. The illustrations are rudimentary, but offer easily visible block colors and simple faces, which can be good for developing visual skills. The length is fine, and JJ seemed mostly to enjoy it. If you’re looking for ways to introduce new topics like American history to your toddler’s library, this could be a fun one. Overall, Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Trombone Shorty (Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Trombone Shorty, an autobiographical picture book written by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and illustrated by Bryan Collier, a fun and fascinating tale that celebrates music and the people who love it.

“Where Y’at?” That’s how people in New Orleans greet each other, a town as friendly and musical as there ever was. And in the neighborhood of Tremé, there once lived a little boy named Troy, who loved music so much that he would play it without an instrument. He would play along with his older brother’s band and with the bands that played in the Mardi Gras parades. One day, Troy finds a trombone, beat up, but still having music to give. Troy carries the heavy instrument wherever he goes, teaching himself to play and dreaming of making “music gumbo”, a music that mixes together all the styles and feelings he adores. His brother encourages him, bestowing him with the nickname “Trombone Shorty” on account on of the instrument’s size compared to his. He plays without fear, marching with the parades as a small boy, and even being invited onstage for an impromptu performance with Bo Diddley. Now Troy is successful musician, playing around the world with his band – but he always returns to New Orleans, finding and encouraging young musicians as his brother once did for him.

Lovely! Mixing together elements of a musical biography and a love letter to New Orleans, Andrews tells his tale with verve and excitement, writing passionately about his home and music in a way that inspires infectious joy (the author’s photos in the back are especially adorable). Collier’s mixed-media art is as spectacular as ever, seamlessly mixing in photography with illustration to create spreads that sing with the spirit and music of the text. The length is great, and JJ and I both loved it. A must-read for any young music lover, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

No Hugs For Porcupine (Zoe Waring)

Hello, friends! Our book today is No Hugs For Porcupine by Zoe Waring, a sweet story about a lonely little porcupine making a compassionate friend.

All the animals in the forest love to give each other hugs and cuddles – except for porcupine. The others whisper that he is too grumpy and prickly, but wouldn’t you be if no one wanted to give you a hug? Porcupine storms off by himself, where he tries to give himself a hug – only to be pricked by his own quills. Lonely and excluded, he tries to shakes off his quills, blunt them on a tree, even cover himself in moss, but to no avail. At last, he meets an Armadillo who offers him some comfort and advice, including introducing him to a new way of showing affection: a kiss. Finding that nose kisses are possible for him (no quills on his face, after all), he and Armadillo go back to find that the animals all miss Porcupine, and are eager to learn the new trick to including him in their friendly affections.

Very sweet. The story is a gentle fable that encourages kindness, understanding, and inclusiveness, showing little bookworms that it’s important to find ways to make sure everyone can participate (Porcupine even gives Owl – now left out because he cannot kiss with his beak – a gentle hug on the final page). The illusions have a wholesome charm, featuring cartoonish wildlife with open, endearing faces. The length is fine, and JJ liked it (especially learning how to say “porcupine”). This is a lovely little story, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)