Porcupine’s Pie (Laura Renauld)

Hello, friends! Sorry for our long hiatus, but we’re back! Our book today is Porcupine’s Pie, written by Laura Renauld and illustrated by Jennie Poh, a delightful tale of generosity and friendship.

Fall Feast Day is here, and Porcupine is prickled with excitement – she can’t wait to bake her famous Cranberry Pie for all her friends. Gathering her cranberries, she sets off to the river to wash them, running into her friend Squirrel along the way. Inquiring as to whether Squirrel will be making her famous Nut Bread, Porcupine is disappointed to hear that Squirrel is missing flour for her recipe – but not to worry! Porcupine has plenty in her kitchen, and tells Squirrel to help herself. Continuing on her journey, Porcupine also stops by Bear’s cave and Doe’s thicket, and finds they have similar predicaments – Bear is missing butter for his Honey Cake, and Doe lacks sugar for her Apple Tart. Again, Porcupine happily offers what she has. But when she arrives at the river to wash her berries, she makes a sad discovery: her cranberries have all fallen out along her way! Sadly returning home, she prepares to make a plain pie crust… but a knock at the door will show that good friends always return the kindness they are shown.

Wonderful. The classic, cozy story and timeless message, combined with some adorable fall-themed illustrations, make this a perfect autumn read. The text is warm and gentle without ever being too cutesy, and the characters are all marvelously endearing, especially the squat, spiny Porcupine. There’s even a recipe for Friendship Pie in the back for the culinary-inclined. The length was perfect, and JJ loved it. A charming fall read, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

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Try A Little Kindness (Henry Cole)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Try A Little Kindness by Henry Cole, a sweet and sometimes silly guide to simple acts of kindness.

Alternating between rhyming text, instructional sentences and vignetted dialogue, readers are encouraged to try to add a little kindness to their daily routines. First, they can start by waking up with a smile and a positive attitude. Examples such as sharing toys, giving hugs, being an ally and inviting someone to play are accompanied by whimsical illustrations of animals doing just those things. And when the day is done, you can feel good about having shared your kindness with others.

Mostly cute. I really enjoyed the various examples the story gives on how children can infuse goodwill into their days, especially in ways that are often overlooked or forgotten about (such as writing Thank You notes). The slightly haphazard jumps between text rhythms was a little jarring at times, but not so much that it couldn’t be gotten used to. My only main issue is apparently a selling point of the book – in many of the art sets that accompany the acts of kindness, there will be one vignette not like the others – such as a cat “opening to door for others” to a birdcage, or a chicken nervously “playing” with a gang of foxes – that is meant to provide humor but honestly sort of undercuts the message of the book. While this is the kind of gag that older kids would probably love, it flew over JJ’s head and was just sort of bothersome to me. However, for the most part, this is a great way to encourage little ones to find ways to be friendly, generous, and sweet, and it’s hard to argue with that. The length was fine, JJ enjoyed it, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Fire Truck Dreams (Sharon Chriscoe)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Fire Truck Dreams, written by Sharon Chriscoe and illustrated by Dave Mottram, third in Chriscoe’s series of big-machine bedtime stories.

Following the same beats as the previous installments – Race Car Dreams and Bulldozer Dreams, – a fire truck finishes his busy day of rescuing kittens and putting out fires, heading home and keeping a proud, watchful eye over his neighborhood. After a refreshing wash and a story from the Rescue Readers Library, he nestles into his parking bay with his trusty Dalmatian and settles into sleep. When he dreams, it’s of saving the day at a bonfire and treated to a parade in his honor, appreciated for all the good that he does.

Very sweet. Once again, Chriscoe uses fluid, cheerful yet subdued rhymes to show how a sentient big vehicle ends its day just the same way the reader does, a treat for any young lover of big machines. The colorful art uses twilight color and lighting to set a peaceful tone that makes for a good bedtime read, adorable and visually interesting but not overly stimulating. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking in the way the story is presented, especially considering how much it shares with the preceding books in the series, but there’s something quite soothing in its simplicity – this is just the type of book that a little fire truck enthusiast would adore reading to wind down their day. The length is good, and JJ enjoyed it, so we can definitely say that this one is Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Little Otter Learns To Swim (Artie Knapp)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Little Otter Learns To Swim, written by Artie Knapp and illustrated by Guy Hobbs, the story of a little river otter’s very big day.

It’s Little Otter’s first day away from the den – that day she learns to swim. She is scared of the river, but her mother insists that it will be fine. And after a few practice splashes, she is! She finds that she loves swimming, and her mother shows her all the things she needs to know to stay safe in and around their river. After a few curious explorations and thrilling creature encounters, Mother Otter and Little Otter return to their den and curl up for a good night’s rest.

Very cute. Sticking to a simple, gentle story, the reader is introduced to the world of a river otter; primarily their environment and habitat, and the animals that share those with them. The illustrations are done in a realistic, naturalist-art style that gives a compelling look at animals both familiar and unfamiliar, such as bobcats, bumblebees, rainbow trout and more. The rhyming text takes an occasional stumble over rhythm and meter, but has an earnest sweetness that makes these awkward moments easy to forgive. The length was fine, and JJ loved looking at all the animals. Wonderful for wildlife fans, especially with the wealth of back matter on otters. We enjoyed it – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Vivid: Poems & Notes About Color (Julie Paschkis)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Vivid: Poems & Notes About Color by Julie Paschkis, a delightfully quirky look at all our favorite hues.

Using a loose structure, nearly each spread is dedicated to a color, except when two colors share one, or one color gets two in a row. The accompanying poems are almost exclusively free-verse, keeping the language short, simple, and easily accessible for readers of all ages. Eccentric topics of verse range from diving into an ocean that becomes bluer the deeper one goes, a cat and dog discussing various shades of red paint colors, and an artichoke-dragon-giant foodchain. Each page also features a nonfiction fact or point of interest on the featured color, such as the etymology of the word “green” or an explanation of why purple is associated with royalty.

Very interesting! Let’s face it: with the breadth of color books out there, it’s always nice to see one that stands out, and this one does. The poems are unique and original, yet still very child-friendly for the most part. And the illustrations, rich with pigment and graceful, flowing figures, are beautiful and fun. The length is great, and we easily finished the entire book in a single storytime (not always the case with poetry books). And of course, JJ loved finding the colors and animals throughout. A fresh take on a well-loved subject, and we appreciated it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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