ABC, Rise Up and Be! (Annemarie Riley Guertin & Sandie Sonke)

Hello, friends! Our book today is ABC, Rise Up and Be! by Annemarie Riley Guertin and Sandie Sonke, an inspirational alphabet book full of encouragement for little bookworms.

Opening on a playground full of youngsters, the reader follows as the diverse cast of kids are encouraged – by the text and by illustrated versions of famous role models from history – to adopt various virtues, listed in alphabetical order. Short affirmations accompany each of the twenty-six aspirational attributes, from “Accepting” to “Zestful”, with the final reminder that the most important thing to be is to simply be oneself.

Lots of style, less substance. This quick read is certainly beautiful to look at: the bright and cheery colors, eye-catching font, and folk-inspired artwork is very cute, featuring a diverse cast of central characters and sweet-faced versions of the historical figures meant to represent each of the alphabetical virtues. However, the affirmations that accompany them are mostly feel-good platitudes, momentarily heartwarming but fairly forgettable. And while the historical figures are noted by name and mini-bio in the front- and end-papers, it would have been far more edifying to have this information on the page where the person appeared; we ended up spending a lot of time flipping back and forth to identify luminaries who were not immediately recognizable in illustrated form. Otherwise, the length was fine, and JJ really did enjoy the artwork. So while it felt slightly lacking in emotional impact for an empowerment book, it’s worth a look for lovely illustrations, and we’re calling 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.)

Eek!: A Noisy Journey From A to Z (Julie Larios & Julie Paschkis)

Hello, friend an our book today is Eek!: A Noisy Journey From A to Z by Julie Larios and Julie Paschkis, a unique alphabet book of onomatopoeias.

When a little mouse plucks a flower and takes an appreciative sniff, he lets out a polite sneeze (“achoo”), which disturbs the bee who was hiding within the petals (“buzz”). As the story unfolds further, each letter is represented by a different “noisy” word – “fwump”, “plop”, “vroom”, etc. – popping up as a different element of the rollicking and unpredictable story of the mouse and his flower unfolds.

Silly fun. Exploring an alphabet’s worth of sound words is a clever twist on the typical ABC fare, and the choices of onomatopoeic words range nicely from noises, animal calls, and even emotional exclamations (a weeping raccoon wails out a “maaaah!”, for instance). The colorful illustrations introduce an entire cast of animals and settings that flow nicely from one to the next, giving a good sense of cause and effect and allowing readers to interpret the story for themselves through context clues. The folk-inspired artwork is distinctive and eye-catching, if occasionally busy. The length is great, and JJ really enjoyed this one. A fun way to explore the alphabet and sounds, and we liked it – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

M Is For Medicine (Veronica Goodman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is M Is For Medicine, written by Veronica Goodman and illustrated by Nicole Jones Sturk, fourth in a series of profession-based alphabet books.

Just like the format of L Is For Law and E Is For Economics before it, each letter is given an element of medicine to illustrate – A is for ambulance, B is for bandage, and so on. Accompanying each subject is a cheerful illustration, often employing a clever visual gag to get a chuckle out of adult readers, particularly those in the medical field; for instance, depicting (I is for) interns as a gaggle of wailing infants, or a guiltily grinning child and her pup in a bathroom, both covered in bandaids. By Z (is for Zoom In, as with a microscope), little readers will have learned some of the lingo of the medical field.

This was a natural progression of this series, and I was happy to see it – there will always be a need for books that demystify the medical world for nervous little patients, and this book is a great resource for that. Showing smiling personnel, brightly colored spaces, and even the lighter, more humorous side of the medical field, little ones can learn a little more about their doctors’ and nurses’ world along with practicing their ABCs. Sturk’s bubbly characters are still refreshingly diverse, and a page that depicts D is for Doctor as a group of men and women of varied ages and ethnicities is great; I only wish the same had been done for N is for Nurse, which missed the opportunity by showing a lone white woman. Also missing is a glossary of terms – while many, like “ambulance” or “hospital” are fairly self-explanatory, terms like “quality of care” or “on-call” may be less familiar to those with non-medical backgrounds. Still, for timid patients such as JJ, or little ones interested in growing up to be healthcare providers, this is a great way to introduce the world of medicine. The length was great, and we recommend 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.)

P Is For Psychology (Natasha Schvey)

Hello, friends! Our book today is P Is For Psychology, written by Natasha Schvey and illustrated by Nicole Jones Sturk, third in a series of alphabetic primers of advanced fields, illustrated by Sturk and written by subject matter experts.

Little readers will have a crash course in psychology terms, some simple and more broad (such as “mindfulness”, “attachment”, or “therapy”), and some more specific to the field of mental health and study (like “Classical Conditioning”, “Delusions of Granduer”, or “Melanie Klein”). The illustrations display the concepts, often converting them into humorous or simplified visuals for little readers to laugh at or connect to (two dogs training a human with a bell and a slice of bacon for “Classical Conditioning” was a favorite).

These books have been sleeper hits in our household, and the newest follows the tradition of E Is For Economics and L Is For Law by providing clever and memorable visuals to punch up rather complex subject matter. Best of all, this book is the first to feature a glossary of terms in the back, an immense help for readers of all ages who might like to learn more about what the “Zone of Proximal Development” is. For those well-versed in psychology, there are cute, clever visual winks, such as a recreation of the Stanford marshmallow experiment to illustrate “eXperiment”. And perhaps best of all, all of the subjects relating to emotions and therapy are depicted in a positive, encouraging light; the artwork for “Therapy”, in which a smiling boy calmly and casually chats with his therapist, is a great way to show little ones that there is nothing scary or wrong about mental health. Sturk’s illustrations feature a diverse cast, the length is fine for a quick read, and as I said, JJ loves these books! A cute primer for families who have experience in the field of mental health, or would love to learn more together, 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.)

A is For Awesome: 23 Iconic Women Who Changed The World (Eva Chen)

Hello, friends! Our book today is A is For Awesome: 23 Iconic Women Who Changed The World, written by Eva Chen and illustrated by Derek Desierto, a delightful alphabet book that introduces young readers to notable “sheroes”.

After a hearty welcome by Juno (protagonist of Chen’s previous book Juno Valentine And The Magical Shoes), the reader is given one-sentence introductions to (and occasionally quotations of) female role models of note, organized alphabetically by the letter of their first name – A is for Amelia Earhart, B is for Beyoncé, C is for Coco Chanel, and so on. The women range from scientists, entertainers, suffragists, athletes, artists, lawmakers, and even a bonafide goddess. X, Y and Z represent eXtraordinary You (accompanied by a full-page mirror), and the Zillions of adventures you’ll go on – just as awesome as all the ladies that came before.

What else can I say? AWESOME! Meant as a primer for the littlest bookworms, this colorful and exuberant look at some deserving female trailblazers is a wonderful way to introduce the power of women to younger and pre-readers. The selection of featured figures is well-balanced, representing a varied range of skintones, religions and backgrounds, though most of the ladies are American. Desierto’s art is simple and friendly, using elements of mixed media cutouts for hair, clothes, and surroundings to frame the warm, open faces of the subjects. It makes each woman feel like a new friend, and works perfectly. JJ adored this one, especially the mirror on the final page, and it was a fairly quick read as well. A must for any young feminist’s bookshelf, and emphatically Baby Bookworm approved!

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