I’m NOT Just A Scribble! (Diane Alber)

Hello friends, and Happy MLK Day! Today’s book is I’m NOT Just A Scribble! by Diane Alber, the story about the importance of being yourself and accepting others for who they are.

Once there was a little scribble, a unique little fellow whose lines wobbled and wiggled. He could be any color or size that he pleased, and he liked that about himself – it was always fun to be something different and colorful. One day, Scribble comes across a house drawn in black lines, and asks to play. The house is grumpy and dismissive, turning Scribble away and making rude comments about his colors and his haphazard shape. Later, Scribble finds a sun and some clouds that are similarly monochrome. He asks to play with them, and they are equally dismissive. Isn’t there anyone who can appreciate Scribble’s uniqueness?

This one had a lot of good things going for it! First, the art is fantastic: freeform crayon drawings over various pieces of paper give the book a fresh visual style with a fun sense of whimsy. The rhyming text flows well, and the themes are classic: the importance of being yourself, of trying new things, and accepting people as they are. There were a few areas where it faltered: the resolution seemed a little abrupt (though I did like that it came about because Scribble was unwilling to compromise himself), and the theme of diversity might have been explored a little better if there had been many scribbles of multiple colors and shapes instead of just one who could change his appearance; it could have shown that different people each bring something unique to the table. However, it was a good length, a fun story with great visuals, JJ enjoyed it, and the included stickers to make scribbles and encourage creativity in readers all combine to make this one a winner. Baby Bookworm approved!

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


Nerdy Birdy Tweets (Aaron Reynolds)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Nerdy Birdy Tweets, written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Matt Davies, a fable of friendship for the digital age.

A sequel to Reynolds and Davies’ Nerdy Birdy, the story picks up with best friends Nerdy Birdy and Vulture. While the two may not have a lot in common, they still enjoy being together, making funny faces and taking silly photos. One day, Nerdy introduces Vulture to an app called Tweetster, where he can play games and make hundreds of internet friends. Vulture is not very interested, and begins to feel left out as Nerdy spends all his time on his phone when they hang out. She attempts to get into the app so she and her friend can have more in common, but when Nerdy unthinkingly posts an embarrassing picture of her, she feels betrayed and ends their friendship. Nerdy doesn’t know what to do – and his 500 internet friends aren’t interested in helping. Can Nerdy Birdy find a way to win his best pal back?

As you can tell, this is covers some modern issues that kids face while trying to navigate friendship in the age of social media. This makes for a wonderfully unique and poignant story, teaching children that they need to respect others online, and that while “likes” from strangers may feel good, but are no substitute for real social interaction from real friends. In a time when internet bullying and exploitation is having devastating real-world consequences on kids, this is an important lesson to instill early on, and this story does a great job of introducing it. Davies manically energetic pen and ink illustrations are a delight, crafting unique, memorable characters. The length is fine for little bookworms, and JJ really enjoyed the birdies. This is a wonderfully modern tale that can help young ones understand the importance of digital caution, and we loved 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.)

Piggy And Plants (Allison Remy Hall)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Piggy And Plants, written by Allison Remy Hall and illustrated by Samuel Pullin, a cozy and sweet story of a green-thumbed little pig caring for his garden through the seasons.

Our story follows the quiet gardener Piggy through the four seasons, split into four miniature stories for each one. In summer, Piggy wakes late one night to sip sweet tea and watch his night-blossoming cactus’s first bloom. In autumn, the little gardener is pleasantly surprised to find a delicious mushroom has taken up in his geranium pot. In winter, Piggy and his duck friend, Kak, enjoy a snowy day inside Piggy’s warm plant nursery. And in spring, Kak gifts Piggy with three pots of surprise seedlings to tend.

Of all the self-published books that have been submitted to us, this is one of our favorites. Piggy and his plants are positively charming in a gentle, warm way that puts a smile on the reader’s face from the first page. The language, rhythm, and content of the text sets a peaceful, soothing tone, reminiscent of the quiet and meditative work of plant care, all while exploring each season through the world of a gardener. The original oil painting art is a treat, creating precious characters, fresh gardenscapes, and snug interiors. The cover might have been a bit more distinct if the title, author, and illustrator information had been integrated, but the length is fine, and JJ really enjoyed the little pig and duck. A lovely tale for little readers, 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.)

Shooting Star Rider (Nayoung Jin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Shooting Star Rider, written by Nayoung Jin and illustrated by Geneviève Côté, the story of a little girl’s quest to convince the stars of the importance of dreams.

One summer evening, a little girl named Elinor sees a shooting star, and makes a wish: “Make grandpa well.” But the next night, she receives a most confusing postcard FROM a shooting star in reply. It rudely dismisses her dreams, and tell her not to rely on shooting stars to solve her problems anymore. Irked, Elinor blasts off into space, tracking down the star who rebuffed her so rudely, scolding it for being so dismissive of the importance of dreaming and hope. The star is fed up, though: shooting stars are very busy, and do not have time help everybody. Can’t people just help themselves? Elinor disagrees, and takes the star to earth so it can have a firsthand lesson in the importance of hoping.

I had mixed feelings on this one, the story is fine, but unevenly paced – some sequences seem to fly by too fast, others drag a bit. Still, there’s a lot of charm to be found in Elinor stubbornly defending the right to hope and wish, also encouraging empathy as she does. The art is also a bit mixed-bag: many of the illustrations are simply gorgeous, creating the dual worlds of Elinor’s hometown and the spacescape filled with celestial bodies and craft, but some of the lines in them seemed harsh and almost pixelated – as though their resolution was not high enough. Overall, the length was fine, JJ enjoyed it, and for any faults it may have, it’s still a sweet book with a lovely message. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

All Around Us (Xelena González)

Hello, friends! Our book today is All Around Us, written by Xelena González and illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia, a sweet tale of the nature of life and the bond between a little girl and her grandfather.

Circles are all around us, a man tells his granddaughter. They exist everywhere, even in places we may not see them. He points out a rainbow, and explains that the arch of the rainbow is just the part that we can see. But underneath the earth, where all things are born and go back to when they leave, the rainbow continues, forming a circle. Many things are circles – bicycle wheels, the sun, a clock – and there are many circles that we follow in our actions, such as planting the seeds of vegetables harvested from the ground. Indeed, one day we all will return to the earth, and the circle will begin again with new life. Circles are all around, says the grandfather. We simply need to know where to look.

What a lovely book. First and foremost, the art is stunning – vibrant painted and sketched circles set against realistic backgrounds make each page vibrate with energy, and elicit the theme of interconnectivity perfectly. The story is slow, but worth it; this is a quiet tale of a bond between granddaughter and grandfather, and a meditation on life and death, and both are handled with a soft touch. This might make it more of tale for slightly older bookworms, though I will say that the length was fine for JJ, and she absolutely loved the art. This one glows from within, not relying on flash but instead a warm, sunny feeling of peace. Baby Bookworm approved.

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