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.)

Hello, World! (Ethan Long)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Hello, World! by Ethan Long, first in the new fun and educational Happy County series.

Good morning, and welcome to Happy County, a bustling little town populated by anthropomorphic animals. Everyone is just waking up, but the town is already alive with energy: the mail carrier is delivering packages, Mr. Grizzles and Ms. Green are bird-watching, and Farmer Del is chasing down L’il Beaky the chick. In a town like this, there are plenty of stories to tell and plenty of things to learn and see, so let’s get started!

Delightful. This Scarry-inspired feast for the eyes is a fantastic blend of humor, vocabulary, storytelling, and meticulous illustration. Reading almost like a digest, each two-page spread has something new to offer, be it the sprawling scenes of music festivals or construction sites with words to learn or details to discover, or the individual stories such as Dottie the dog walker’s adventure (which doubles as a counting exercise), or Hannah the handywoman’s lesson in alliteration. The stories – both big and small – flow seamlessly together, making the reading experience feel like a cohesive story even as it covers a wide variety of topics and characters. Long’s cartoon illustrations are fun and full of personality, and the story’s length is brief, yet lends itself to hours of rereading and close perusal of the art for young readers. JJ really enjoyed this one, and we highly recommend it for little bookworms building their vocabulary! We look forward to seeing more of this series; Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Alphaprints: Puppy Love (Priddy Books)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Alphaprints: Puppy Love by Priddy Books, the latest addition to the series of simple, colorful board books.

In keeping with the theme of the popular series, five animal families – their heads made of a textured fingerprint pattern and their bodies a cute mix of photos and shapes – are introduced. In each, a short couplet celebrates their love, be it romantic, familial, or love between friends.

Colorful, inoffensive fun. The mixed-media animals are all quite cute, and JJ and I had a great time identifying what their bodies were made of (such as bananas for a puppy’s ears or buttons for a bunny’s nose). The textured “fingerprint” for the characters’ faces were nice too, though it made me wish for more textures to be introduced. It’s a rather brief book, and is probably best for the very youngest of bookworms, yet the book is sturdy and delightfully cheerful; it even features photo tabs to help little fingers open to the exact page they want. It’s not going to break the mold of board books, but it’s enjoyable fare for little readers that celebrates love with adorable animals, and it’s hard to get that wrong. Overall, a short but sweet treat, and Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Safari Vets (Emily Bannister & Ian Cunliffe)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Safari Vets by Emily Bannister and Ian Cunliffe, a delightful interactive story for young animal lovers.

The call comes in: animals are in need! Not to worry, the safari vets – two youngsters, one a little girl and one more ambiguously gendered – are on the case! Packing their medical bag full of supplies, they rush to assist their furry friends. First up, a lion with a hurt nose! A bandage will help him feel better. So too will the cozy scarf for the giraffe with the sore throat, and the crocodile with achy gums from teething. Along with each remedy, the young vets provide sound advice: a lot of love and a little rest, and soon each patient will feel their best.

Adorable. Utilizing some truly clever touch-and-feel and interactive elements, this bouncy tale gives kids a chance to care for sick animals alongside the characters, all while getting a comforting lesson on convalescence. Kids can apply the lion’s bandage using Velcro, wrap the giraffe’s long neck, soothe an elephant’s sore ear, and more. It’s a nice way to encourage nurturing behavior along with scientific curiosity, and JJ absolutely went wild for it. The repeated refrain about rest and love is also great, and makes this an ideal book to pull out when little bookworms may not be feeling their best. The length is perfect, the art was precious and fun, and we loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!