Mother Bruce (Ryan T. Higgins)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins, a hilarious tale of a bear, four goslings, and a case of mistaken identity.

Bruce the bear is, simply put, a grouch. He doesn’t like sunny days or cute animals, and he hates most everything. The only thing he enjoys is eggs, and cooking them into fancy recipes he finds online. One day, while attempting such a meal, he goes out for more firewood, returning to discover his eggs destroyed… by the four baby goslings that have hatched from them. Worse yet, the goslings seem to think that Bruce is their mother! He will have to figure out what to do with these pesky babies – being “Mama” Bruce was definitely not on the menu.

This is one of the most fun books in JJ’s library to read, and it never fails to raise a chuckle out of us. Between Bruce’s comically sour disposition, the deadpan humor of the text, and the fantastic illustrations and visual gags in the art, it’s an immensely enjoyable read every time. I especially love the rather unexpected ending which, besides being hilarious, has a heartwarming lesson: family doesn’t always have to be genetic. The length is great, and JJ loves this one so much; we would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good laugh with just a dash of tenderness. Baby Bookworm approved!

Little Elliot, Big Family (Mike Curato)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is Little Elliot, Big Family by Mike Curato, a story about the family we have and the family we make.

The second book in the Little Elliot series, the story opens with Elliot (a small, spotted elephant who lives in NYC) and his best friend and roommate Mouse waking to a lovely winter day. Mouse is in a rush; his family reunion is today, and he’s looking forward to seeing his two hundred-odd family members. Elliot sees him off, but immediately feels a bit lonely once his pal is gone. Going for a walk around the city doesn’t help much: everywhere he goes, he sees families spending time together. He even goes to see a movie, but is left in tears at the sight of an elephant family on the screen. Venturing back out into the snow, he is stopped by Mouse, who has missed him as well. Mouse invites Elliot to his family reunion, where everyone has a lovely time. And when the time comes to take the family portrait, the many mice find that there is plenty of room for a little elephant to squeeze in. After all, Elliot is family.

We have loved the Elliot books so far, which are sweet yet touching, and have a lovely, gentle innocence to the story and art. Elliot’s loneliness is so palpable through the text and illustrations, and readers would be hard-pressed to not sympathize with the sensitive little elephant. I also love that this is a book about found family, which is great for children whose families are not strictly biological. This is a story that children of blended families, adoption, or foster families might relate to, and that’s wonderful. The length is perfect, and JJ loved the “effent,” so this one is definitely Baby Bookworm approved!

The Littlest Family’s Big Day (Emily Winfield Martin)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is The Littlest Family’s Big Day by Emily Winfield Martin, a sweet story of a tiny bear family’s move to a new neighborhood.

The Bear family has just moved to the forest, and they are excited to explore their new neighborhood. They aren’t like regular bears; only five inches tall, different colors, and their youngest child an adopted fox cub, they look very different from their neighbors. Still, the neighbors welcome them with cheer and hospitality as the family goes for a wander around their new home. But after much wandering, the family finds that they are lost! Fortunately, a kindly owl carries them home, where they find that the neighborhood has put together a huge party to welcome them to the forest.

This is a very cute book. As always, Martin’s art is the star of the show: her delicate yet rich environments and characters capture the magic of the forest. The story is simple, but there are some great lessons to be found about acceptance, being neighborly and welcoming, and showing kindness to new people. It feels very much like a metaphor for the immigrant experience, which is cool, and definitely includes a non-traditional, mixed-race adoptive family, which is even cooler. The length is great, and JJ always enjoys Martin’s art, as there are so many details to pick out. We really enjoyed this one, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Gaston (Kelly DiPucchio)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Gaston, written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Christian Robinson, the story of a little “poodle” and how he brings two families together.

Mrs. Poodle has four lovely poodle children, but Gaston is different: he’s bigger, and he must try harder than his sisters at being dainty, delicate and polite. Still, Gaston works hard to be a good poodle, and his family loves him. Then one day at the park, his family discovers another mother with four pups: three French Bulldogs and a miniature poodle! Mrs. Poodle and Mrs. Bulldog realize what must have happened, and agree to let the children decide what to do. So the adopted pups decide to switch back, but quickly realize that even though they are with dogs that look like them, they miss their families and their mothers (and their mothers miss them), so they choose to live with their adopted families, and both families decide spend every day together at the park.

This book was wonderful! First, the illustrations are absolutely charming, the length was great for Baby Bookworms, and the text is a lot of fun and very interactive for younger readers. But I loved the story, and its message about adoption and what makes a family, most of all. Not only did it impress that families need not always be related by blood, they also show that family comes in every shape and size. It was also great that the two dog families decided to maintain a close relationship after the pups switched back: it showed that it’s okay to have a relationship with both adoptive and birth families. These are wonderful messages when more and more kids are being raised in blended and non-traditional families, and we loved it! Baby Bookworm approved!