100 Endangered Species (Rachel Hudson)

Hello, friends! Our book today is 100 Endangered Species by Rachel Hudson, an awesome compendium of creatures from around the world who are in need of protection.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the orangutan, but have you ever heard of a Moscardón? Did you know whooping cranes mated for life? Or that there are only 200 to 300 Cross River gorillas left in the wild? Each page of this wildly comprehensive book features an animal on the IUCN Red List, ranging from low risk to critically endangered, and is classified as a “conservation priority”. In addition to information about their habitats, locations, and threats to the species, each animal is accompanied by a colorful and charming illustration to bring them to life. Readers can learn about animals they know, ones they may not have known of before, and what they can do to help these unique creatures thrive.

Fascinating! Hutton does a fantastic job of condensing information about each animal in two or three paragraphs, giving young bookworms just enough information to engage, not overwhelm. The animals themselves are a great mix of the familiar (African elephants, giant pandas, polar bears, etc.) and the more esoteric (purple-faced langurs, Danube clouded yellows, hirolas, and many more). Backmatter includes a glossary and a thorough list of conservation organizations, and the illustrated table of contents provides a clever visual treat. Overall, this is an interesting little book that provides a great deal of educational material for older elementary to middle-grade bookworms. It was obviously a little dense for JJ to get through in one sitting, but she loved the animal artwork. A wonderful way to get little ones invested in wildlife conservation, 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.)

Deep In The Sea (Susan B. Katz)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Deep In The Sea, written by Susan B. Katz and illustrated/pop-ups by David A. Carter, a charming undersea pop-up adventure that compares ocean creatures to their land-based “counterparts”.

This sturdy pop-up title welcomes readers by explaining that when it comes to aquatic vs. land animals, “sometimes a name is almost the same”. For instance, while cats purr, catfish stir. And while cows graze, sea cows laze. These simple, bite-sized rhymes are laid out across flaps that open to reveal pop-up scenes of underwater creatures like starfish, sea lions, and leopard sharks.

A fun read. The concept is clever, and while some of the rhymes feel like a bit of a stretch, either in assonance or plausibility (do leopards really “tower”?), most are enjoyable and easy enough for beginning readers to grasp. The best part is the art, in particular the pop-up scenes, which do a wonderful job of illustrating the sea creatures while also mimicking their natural underwater movements, making them seem to “swim” across the page whenever a flap is opened. This is definitely a book for beginners, and while there is a nice mix of familiar and lesser-known sea critters, there is no more info given about them than what their rhyme imparts. It’s a quick read, and JJ absolutely loved it. A lovely oceanic primer for the littlest bookworms, 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.)

Wild About Dads (Diana Murray)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Wild About Dads, written by Diana Murray and illustrated by Amber Alvarez, a sweet celebration of the dads of the animal world.

Dads are great at lots of things: they can help their kids to reach up high, they play games, they carry little ones on piggyback, and so much more! But it’s not only human dads who can do these wonderful things: dads in the animal kingdom do them too! Over a dozen animal dads are shown doing things with their little ones, like sharing snacks (pelicans), fetching dinner (red foxes), and giving a bath (African wild dogs). Bookended with scenes of human dads playing with their kids at a playground tie the theme together: “There’s a lot that dads can do. The best of all is loving you!”

Fun and educational. Young animal enthusiasts will love learning the factoids about the animal dads, explored briefly in the jaunty rhyming text and expanded upon in the endpapers. I especially liked that animals included a few lesser-known creatures; animal-crazy JJ was delighted to learn about Bearded Emperor Tamarins Sandhill Cranes. The artwork is lush, colorful and very cute, drawing the animals with endearing, cartoonish features that make them all look especially cuddly-cute. The length was perfect for any age, and JJ loved it! This would be a great one for dads to share with their own little critters, and we highly recommend 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.)

Hatch! (Cassie Hoyt)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Hatch!, written by Cassie Hoyt and illustrated by Amanda Crawford Brown, a book about the many different types of animals who begin life as eggs.

In a repeating two-spread refrain, the reader is presented with an egg as it begins to hatch, and wonders what animal is about to emerge. The eggs are different colors, sizes, and call different types of nests their home When each hatchling emerges, it’s a new and unique creature to meet. Ducks, snakes, penguins, frogs, and even spiderlings make appearances, to name but a few.

As a concept, the book is very cute – it’s a great cross section of animals that hatch from eggs, including plenty of fan-favorites among young animal lovers. The repeating quartet is fun to read aloud, though it’s structure and wording is so strongly reminiscent of Eric Carle’s classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear that it feels like it can’t be a coincidence (an homage, perhaps?). The art is… unique. While the nests are drawn nicely – balancing details, shading, and textures well – the animals themselves lack depth and consistent scale, and the coal-black, Coraline-like eyes they all feature are flat at their best, and legitimately haunting at their worst. The length is fine, and JJ enjoyed the repetition and inherent interactive nature of the text, but she also seemed deeply confused by the artwork. Overall, this indie has a sweet concept, but fails too often in the execution to make its mark.

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

Lost For Words (Natalie Russell)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Lost For Words by Natalie Russell, an adorable tale about the talents that make us special.

Tapir is flummoxed. He has a brand new notebook with fresh blank pages and a new set of sharpened pencils at the ready. Yet when he sets pencil to paper, he cannot think of a single thing to put down; his brain feels as empty as the page. His friends aren’t having any trouble: Giraffe has composed a poetic ode to his favorite tree; Hippo, a thrilling story about a brave (and handsome) hippo; Flamingo, beautiful song about the bright, warm sun. Tapir is proud of his friends, yet wishes he could figure out how to express himself as well. Retreating to a hill, he looks out over the place and creatures he loves, and reflects… and suddenly, he knows just how to express the feelings within.

Lovely. This gentle, sweet tale covers some pretty classic kidlit subject matter: individual talents and skill, artistic block, frustration, and friendship. The lovely ending sees Tapir not only finding his talent, but using it to show appreciation for the ones he cares about, dovetailing the themes smoothly and with considerable warmth. The art manages to create the cuddliest-looking creatures out of simple lines and colors; JJ was especially fascinated by Tapir, an animal who rarely gets a starring role in kidlit. The length is perfect for a short storytime, and we both loved it. A loveable cast and an encouraging tale, 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.)