Claymates (Dev Petty)

Hello, friends! Today, we’re reviewing Claymates, written by Dev Petty and illustrated by Lauren Eldridge, a wonderfully unique tale of friendship, creativity, and fun.

Our story begins in a sculptor’s workshop, where two lumps of clay meet. They are both new to the workshop, and a little nervous about what they’re going to be. When the sculptor comes, she carefully molds them: brown clay becomes a cute little owl, and gray clay becomes a clever wolf. The two are delighted by how great they look, and are goofing around when – whoops! Gray pulls his ears out too long. At first Brown Clay is nervous that changing their appearance will get them in trouble, but Gray convinces him to have some fun with his look as well. The two friends grow increasingly creative and silly with their appearances… up until they hear the sculptor about to return! They must return to their original shapes, but there’s one problem: what were they shaped like again?

This one was fun! It had a very distinct visual style, using photography of real clay and clay modeling tools to create the characters and environment to a fascinatingly detailed degree. The two lumps are expressive and full of personality, and the comic-book style of the layout is perfect for following the wordless portions of the story. The text itself is full of laughs, yet still provides a subtle yet sweet tale of new friendship. There is one page that’s a bit off for me: when the characters are caught looking disheveled by the frustrated sculptor, she immediately sets to squishing them down and re-sculpting them – while they moan in agony and discuss how much the process hurts. That’s… a bit dark, and feels out of place in a mostly fun and fluffy book. Otherwise, the length was fine and JJ enjoyed it, so we’re still calling this one Baby Bookworm approved!


Rosa (Nikki Giovanni)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Rosa, written by Nikki Giovanni and illustrated by Bryan Collier, the story of Rosa Parks’s famous act of defiance and the fire it lit in the Civil Rights movement.

Rosa Parks is a seamstress, an activist, and a well-respected woman in her town of Montgomery, Alabama. One December afternoon, she is riding the bus home, seated in the section of the bus designated for use by either black or white people. Suddenly, the bus driver demands that she stand up, and quiet, mild-mannered Rosa does something that no one expects: she refuses. Reminiscing of all the work and protesting that she and others have done to bring equality to all Americans, Rosa decides that she will not give up her seat on the bus, and is arrested. When word of this gets out, a women’s political action group immediately sets to work raising support for Rosa, and eventually they and several other groups organize protests, a boycott, and marches to protest the unfair laws that separate white and “colored” people in public places. With the movement gaining both steam and the support of their fellow Americans, the buses are soon desegregated by a Supreme Court ruling… and it all began with one woman’s simple act of defiance.

This was a great retelling of a seminal moment and figure in the Civil Rights movement, featuring a brisk yet powerful story and gorgeous art. The story has some great messages about courage and the right to equality and the illustrations are powerful and evocative. The length is fine, and JJ enjoyed it. There a few small issues: there’s a strange moment that seems to imply that men have a right to more space on public transit than women, which I didn’t love. But overall, this is still a story about how one very ordinary woman had the power to inspire others to fight for what’s right, and we liked it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Littles, And How They Grow (Kelly DiPucchio)

Hello, friends! Today’s review is the sentimental and sweet Littles, And How They Grow, written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by AG Ford, a lovely book of about growing babies.

There are so many special things about Littles (little babies, that is): their little toys, their little smiles, their little clothes that show off their adorable dimpled knees. There are Little books, Little games, and wonderfully messy Little meals. Most of all, there are lots of friends and family who love their Little so very much. And all too quickly, all those Littles, with their giggles and tantrums and naps and cuddles, are not-so-little anymore.

There’s a grand tradition of books about babies becoming big kids, and this is a welcome addition to it. Sweet, simple rhymes and universal reflections on all the magical things about babies create a warm and gentle story that’s fun to read. And the illustrations, in addition to being appropriately adorable, are fantastically inclusive. LGBTQ, multicultural, mixed-race, and non-traditional families are shown raising babies of many ethnicities, and there was a wonderfully welcome illustration of a baby nursing that can help teach children about breastfeeding. The length was great, and JJ adored all the little babies and their antics. A sweet celebration of the joy of watching babies grow, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Little Elliot, Fall Friends (Mike Curato)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the latest in the positively charming Little Elliot series: Little Elliot, Fall Friends by Mike Curato. In this newest adventure, Elliot and Mouse enjoy the wonders of fall, and find some new friends along the way.

Little Elliot the elephant and his very best friend Mouse love living in the big city, but sometimes even they need a break from the noise and dirt and crowds. So one day, the pair decide to take a bus trip up to the country to enjoy the beautiful fall weather. The countryside is everything they hoped for and more: there’s beautiful scenery, delicious treats, and plenty of space and quiet to enjoy each other’s company. The pair decide to play a game of hide-and-seek, and after a few rounds, Elliot finds the perfect hiding spot. Perhaps a little TOO perfect, in fact. Hours pass without Mouse finding him, and Little Elliot begins to grow scared. Can he find his friend again in the great big countryside?

Once again, Curato has brought a lovely story and gorgeous art together to create a wonderful storybook for the eyes and ears. While the previous Little Elliot books deal with slightly more serious themes (loneliness, family, overcoming fears, etc), this one is almost entirely simple fun and a celebration of autumn. The main conflict is resolved quickly, which gives the rest of the book plenty of time to focus on pumpkins, fall leaves, delicious foods, and friends and family coming together. The art is as beautiful as always, placing the adorable characters of Elliot and Mouse in stunning environments, this time using a soft autumnal palette that’s a feast for the eyes. The length is great, and JJ and I both loved it. A wonderful addition to one of our favorite series, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Monster Needs A Costume (Paul Czajak)

Hello, friends! Today’s review is the charming and fun Monster Needs A Costume, written by Paul Czajak and illustrated by Wendy Grieb, a Halloween-themed tale from the delightful Monster & Me series.

Halloween is almost here, so Monster – with the help of his young human friend – must find the perfect costume! But what does he want to be? A fireman? A pear? No, Monster decides that he will be a cowboy! He and his human get everything they need for the costume, making it just perfect – that is, until Monster see his first ballet, and decides that he simply must be a ballerina for Halloween instead! And once that costume is finished and Monster has perfected his pirouettes… he decides he’s too tired to be a ballerina, and wants to be a ninja instead! Will Monster be able to pick a Halloween costume before the big day?

This one was a lot of fun, and had a lot of little details that I absolutely adored. First of all, the story was perfect: not only will little readers laugh at the changeable Monster’s costuming dilemma (and the adorably fitting resolution), any parent who has suffered the woes of getting a costume too early, only to have their own little Monster decide that they want to be something completely different the week of Halloween, will get a kick out of this one as well. I also loved the detail of having one of Monster’s costumes be gender non-traditional; it was nice to see that the nearly-eight-foot Monster was as perfectly comfortable and happy wearing a pink tutu as he was a cowboy outfit. The illustrations were fantastic, and bring the characters to life with great energy and humor. The length is great, and JJ and I both really enjoyed it! A wonderful bit of Halloween fun, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!