Never Too Young!: 50 Unstoppable Kids Who Made A Difference (Aileen Weintraub)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Never Too Young!: 50 Unstoppable Kids Who Made A Difference, written by Aileen Weintraub and illustrated by Laura Horton, a compendium of young change-makers who made major accomplishments in their fields before the age of 18.

Including a short forward, the book introduces the reader to 50 figures throughout history that made notable contributions to their fields while still in their formative years. Each biography features a full-page vignette illustration of the subject, often paired with a quotation by them. Opposite is a three-to-five paragraph biography noting where the youngster hailed from, what field they made their mark in and how, and what they went on to do in their adult years (where applicable). There is a healthy mix of historical and modern examples from all over the world, ranging from notable names such as Joan of Arc, Anne Frank, and Louis Braille, to less-familiar luminaries and role models like Aisholpan Nurgaiv, Katie Stagliano, and Thandiwe Chama.

Absolutely awesome. These biography compendiums for kids have become quite popular recently, and it’s wonderful to see the format used to inspire while it educates. With the aim of not only teaching children about history, culture, world events, and the arts, the text also serves to encourage children that there is no age limit on getting involved with the world around them. The biographies are bite-sized enough so that even JJ comfortably enjoyed a few; an older child could easily finish the book in a few sittings. The illustrations all have a genial quality that makes each figure feel like a new friend. This is a great book for encouraging children to make a difference in the world around them, and know that their voices and talents matter, and we just adored it. Absolutely Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Neymar: A Soccer Dream Come True (Mina Javaherbin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Neymar: A Soccer Dream Come True, written by Mina Javaherbin and illustrated by Paul Hoppe, the real-life story of Neymar Jr., one of the biggest soccer stars in the world.

Growing up in Brazil, Neymar Jr. lived and breathed soccer; he spent all the time he could playing and practicing. His father had once played, but had to quit his pro career after an accident, but he passed on his love of soccer to his son and encouraged Neymar Jr..’s passion for it. At a local amateur match, a coach sees potential in young Neymar Jr. and offers to coach him, which earns him a spot in the local club. Eventually Neymar is even accepted to a prestigious trial with Real Madrid in Spain, but he finds that he misses his home, and especially his family. His father agrees to take him back to Brazil, much to the shock of Neymar’s friends and fans. But as it turns out, a talent like Neymar’s, combined with his drive and the support of his family, is destined to grow no matter where it’s planted.

This one was great! We don’t read a lot of sports books because JJ’s not into sports yet, but this is one of those sports stories that transcends the fandom. The main focus is Neymar Jr.’s childhood and rise as a soccer star, but it’s interspersed with lessons that are applicable to fans and non-fans alike, such as responsibly, the importance of hard work and family, and knowing when to trust your instincts, even if the world calls you crazy. The first-person narrative helps the reader connect with Neymar Jr., and the warm, energetic illustrations are cozy yet exciting. The length is great, and JJ enjoyed it. A great story for fans of soccer or simply lovers of a great story. Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Danza!: Amalia Hernández And El Ballet Folklórico de México (Duncan Tonatiuh)

Hola amigos, y feliz Cinco de Mayo! In celebration, our book today is Danza!: Amalia Hernández And El Ballet Folklórico de México by Duncan Tonatiuh, a picture book history of Mexico’s celebrated dance company and the woman behind it.

Amalia – or Ami – Hernández grew up watching traditional local danzas, and immediately fell in love with dance. Her family supported her passion, and she studied ballet and modern dance, often choreographing numbers that incorporated the styles of traditional dance she had grown up loving as a child. Ami had a vision: she wanted to create a dance company that performed traditional danzas and bailes from across her beloved Mexico, using live musicians, elaborate costumes, and colorful sets. Hernández often combined the traditional dances with modern styles or music, creating a new style that honored Mexican tradition. Eventually, she opened her own dance school, and her Ballet Folklórico is a world-renowned dance company that performs internationally to this day.

Wonderful! If you’ve never seen a performance of baile folkórico, the dance style that Hernández created, you should absolutely take the opportunity to do so. Tonatiuh’s story and art pays lovely homage to both Amalia and her work, with a story that is told with excitement and appreciation, but never feels slow. The folk-art-inspired illustrations that are Tonatiuh’s signature shine especially bright here, bringing to life the shapes, colors, and energy of the dancers. The length is very manageable for little bookworms, and JJ adored it. A wonderful way to celebrate a mainstay of Mexican culture and art, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles (Patricia Valdez)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles, written by Patricia Valdez and illustrated by Felicita Sala, the story of the notable herpetologist and researcher.

From childhood, Joan loved nothing more than spending time with her reptiles. Snakes, turtles, lizards, and the baby crocodile she was given for her birthday; Joan loved the quiet, intelligent animals all. She would often spend her days in discussion with the curator of reptiles at the London Natural History Museum, who took Joan under his wing as a protege. When war came to England, Joan was offered a vacant position at the museum as the curator’s assistant; by the time the war had ended, she had been promoted to Reptile Curator. When the London Zoo decided to rebuild its reptile house, they consulted Joan, who designed a paradise for her scaly friends, including two Komodo Dragons that she formed a special bond with. Joan’s love of reptiles encouraged others to do the same, including passing on that love to the next generation of young zoologists.

Very interesting! I had never heard of Joan, but was immediately taken by her story. Obviously, a young girl having a passion for herpetology was considered highly unusual in early 20th century England, and while this is mentioned a few times, the story focuses less on her gender and more on her tireless work (I was surprised to learn in the appendix that she died so young, considering her wealth of contributions to the field). The art is really lovely, putting special focus on the reptiles, inviting the reader to see them through Joan’s eyes. The length is very manageable for a biography, and JJ loved all the animals. A wonderful story about a remarkable woman, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Little People, Big Dreams: Marie Curie (Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Little People, Big Dreams: Marie Curie, written by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Frau Isa, a gorgeous, inspiring and moving little book about the famed scientist.

Little Marie was never quite what people expected of girls in her time: instead of a princess, she longed to be a scientist. However, girls were not allowed to attend college in her country – but that wasn’t going to stop her. Marie moved to Paris to study physics and chemistry, becoming a top student, despite studying in a completely new language! Paris is also where she met Pierre Curie, who would become the love of her life. They both loved science, and even won a Nobel Prize for their work together, Marie being the first woman ever to do so. After losing Pierre to a tragic accident, Marie focused on her work, developed x-rays to help the injured and sick, and won another Nobel prize. Marie never let her hardships define her, and become one of the greatest female pioneers science has ever known.

This is our second Little People, Big Dreams book, and it is just as stirring and beautiful as the first. Marie’s life is condensed to its most crucial events and themes, creating a storybook-like narrative that moves at a brisk pace but is no less impactful. The art here is strikingly gorgeous, using a soft, muted palette to frame Marie’s life of passion, triumph, and loss, and there are a few spreads that are truly, heartbreakingly remarkable. The length is perfect for even tiny bookworms, and JJ absolutely adored it. These are a marvelous treat, and we love reading them. Baby Bookworm approved!