What Do They Do With All That Poo? (Jane Kurtz)

Hello, friends! Our book today is What Do They Do With All That Poo?, written by Jane Kurtz and illustrated by Allison Black, a wild and wonderful look at zoo animals’ poo.

There are lots and lots of animals at the zoo, and they have lots and lots to eat. And well, you know what comes next – they poo! There are as many types of poop as there are different animals: small and hard, big and stinky, even cube-shaped! But what do zoos do with all that manure? The answers just might surprise you!

Well, that is definitely a subject I haven’t seen in a picture book before, but honestly? It was really cool! The friendly, colorful illustrations keep things bright and innocuous, and the bouncy rhyming text is informative and entertaining. What’s great is the way the book destigmatizes scat, showing kids that science is everywhere, and offers some truly fascinating looks into zoo animals’ biology, their behavior, and the science of scat. JJ loved the adorable animals, and the length was great. The ending is a little abrupt, but I can see this being a fun read for young science and/or animals lovers, even a potty-training aide! Informative and unique, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

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Hooked (Tommy Greenwald)

Hello friends and Happy Father’s Day! Our review today is Hooked, written by Tommy Greenwald and illustrated by David McPhail, a fishing story of father and son.

To Joe, there’s no better way to spend a day than a fishing trip. He enjoys the peaceful quiet and being alone with his imagination. More than anything, Joe wants his dad to join him, but his dad always says no, protesting that it’s boring (and he doesn’t like worms). So Joe joins the town fishing group instead, and is excited to hear of the upcoming ice fishing trip – until the group leader says that he must be accompanied by an adult. Joe asks his father to join him, who agrees on one condition: he never has to go fishing with Joe again. But when the pair head out to the lake, Joe’s dad may find that fishing isn’t just about what you catch, but who you spend the day with.

I have mixed feelings on this one. On one hand, it ends up being a sweet story, where Joe’s father learns to appreciate fishing as time spent together, and Joe can finally share his hobby. The illustrations are darling, with a nostalgic storybook style. But honestly, I can’t get over what a jerk Joe’s dad at first! Yes, he eventually realizes his error, but the responses he gives to his son wanting to spend time with him – and the way the illustrations show how clearly heartbroken Joe is by them – are upsetting as a parent, and could be upsetting to young readers as well. It’s a judgement call for those who want to share this with their own little bookworms, but it quite frankly turned me off. Otherwise, the length was fine, and JJ enjoyed the illustrations. But overall, this is one we’ll throw back.

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

I Wonder: Celebrating Daddies Doin’ Work (Doyin Richards)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Wonder: Celebrating Daddies Doin’ Work by Doyin Richards, a look at modern-day daddies and the way they care for and love their little ones.

While childrens’ lives are filled with wonderings, they may be surprised to find that their daddies wonder lots of things too! Daddies wonder if their children like the things they do together, or the photos they take, or the ponytail they put in their kiddo’s hair. They wonder if their babies understand why they may be firm or strict, or why they want to teach them to do new things and never stop dreaming or trying. But most of all, they wonder if their little ones understand just how must they are loved – but when they see a brilliant smile on their child’s face, they thank goodness that they get to be their children’s very own daddy.

Very sweet. Inspired by Richards’s blog, Daddy Doin’ Work, and filled with real photos of Richards and his followers with their children, the book features a fairly comprehensive look at modern dads, namely the affections and responsibilities of fatherhood. The text comes from a place of devotion, feeling, and hope, and isn’t afraid to show real emotion. I also respect that a few of the included examples of fatherly responsibilities bucked gender norm expectations, such as noting that daddies do hair, cook meals, and show empathy and comfort. In fact, I would have loved to see more of these, such as daddies playing tea party or dolls, but the examples that were there were refreshing. The photos also feature a healthy range of skintones, body types, and ethnicities, which is always welcome. The length is fine, and JJ enjoyed the photos very much. Overall, a cute look at fatherhood in the 21st century, 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.)

Yayoi Kusama: From Here To Infinity (Sarah Suzuki)

Hello, friends! Our book for today is Yayoi Kusama: From Here To Infinity, written by Sarah Suzuki and illustrated by Ellen Weinstein, a visually striking picture book biography of the Japanese avant-garde artist.

Yayoi was born in Japan in 1929, into a world of natural beauty and color. As a child, she would paint and draw the world around her – her home city of Matsumoto, the plants in her family’s nursery, the streams and forests of her youth – represented as colorful dots. Not everyone understood her dots: her family tried to train her to become a proper lady, and her art school teachers tried to force her to paint in the traditional Japanese style, but Yayoi’s inspirations could not be contained. She set off on her own to the United States, and painted at every chance she could get, creating more and more paintings and sculptures of her dots. Then one day, she was invited to show her work at a gallery – and people went wild for it. Yayoi travelled the world, creating art, then returned to Japan and continues to create and innovate to this day.

Fascinating! I was somewhat aware of Kusama’s work before reading this, and it was wonderful to learn more about her art and the life that inspired it – though I wish some mention might have been made of her long relationship with mental illness, and how she used art to channel her emotions and struggles. Still, the story is brief yet engaging, and the stylized art (inspired by Kusama’s work, naturally) is bold, vivid, and gorgeous. In fact, JJ especially loved the illustrations, and there were many pages that elicited a “Wow!” or “Oooo!” from both of us. The length is fine, and it was a fun and educational read. A pretty awesome portrait of a intriguing artist, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Hide Seek Stinky Sweet / Happy Grumpy Loved / Wiggle Jump Tickle (Ruth Austin & Kanae Sato)

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Hello, friends! Our books today are a charming trio of board books by Ruth Austin and Kanae Sato: Hide Seek Stinky Sweet, Happy Grumpy Loved, and Wiggle Jump Tickle, books featuring lessons in opposites, feelings, and actions respectively.

Each book introduces us to it’s own cast of characters: a girl and her black cat, a brother and sister and their alligator friend, and a little boy and his oversized baby bird. Using simple, single-word concepts and matching illustrations, readers are shown the difference between happy and sad, asleep and awake, and a leap and a tickle, each concept woven into a simple story told through the art. Bright, vivid colors attract the eye while simple, mostly black-and-white characters allow the actions and emotions to be easily read.

Delightful! We had such a blast with these. Between the wonderful illustrations of basic concepts and the absolutely adorable characters, all three were quick, informative, and wildly fun to read together. JJ was positively enthralled by each book, all of which are built with sturdy hardcovers and water-resistant textured pages. These are a welcome addition to our board book collection, and would be a perfect gift for any budding bookworm. A great little trio to help build communication, and they’re Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: Copies of these books were provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)