My Heart Grows (Jeffrey Burton)

Hello, friends! Our book today is My Heart Grows, written by Jeffrey Burton and illustrated by Joanne Liu, a sweet board book about the bond between caregivers and their little ones.

First, a heart beats for one; but when that one heart welcomes a child into their life, it beats for two and just keeps growing. It grows as the child does – as they learn, as they laugh, as they cry, as they figure out how to be brave. With every adventure, every setback, and every life lesson, a heart grows and grows, and so do the other hearts that love it.

Heartwarming. A gentle look at the bond between a parent/caregiver and the child who makes their heart grow. Simple, earnest rhyming text is fairly easy to read aloud (though there were a few meter inconsistencies that tripped me up) and warmly tender in its tone. Brightly colored child-like illustrations are delightful and surprisingly atmospheric. One small disappointment was that while the parent/caregiver-child pairs depicted do feature some racial diversity, there is only one non-traditional caregiver (a grandparent) and no sign of blended families, which feels like a missed opportunity. However, everything else about the book is a delight, especially the clever use of the heart cutouts to fit the theme of a growing heart. The length was great for a quick and easy read, and JJ enjoyed it. Overall, Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Here Comes Fall! (Susan Kantor)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Here Comes Fall!, written by Susan Kantor and illustrated by Katya Longhi, a sweet celebration of fall fun.

A group of adorable forest friends celebrate the arrival of fall, and all the fun that comes along with it. They rejoice in the red and gold of the autumn leaves, the cooler weather, and the crisp air. Donning their cozy sweaters, they gather together to pick apples and carve pumpkins, and jump in crunchy leaf piles. And of course, fall brings cool nights with frosty windows, perfect for enjoying moonlit skies or cozying inside with friends and family.

Generic yet sweet. This colorful board book of autumnal themes doesn’t have anything particularly groundbreaking to offer, but what it does, it does very well. The text is simple and easy to read, yet does a good job of capturing the sensations and excitements of fall weather and activities. The illustrations are very cute, and all of the wide-eyed animal pals are endearing and cuddly-looking. Allusions to autumn holidays are scant; only Halloween is referenced, but is not mentioned by name. The length is great for a quick read through, and JJ enjoyed the cute animals and fall themes. Overall, a sweet little book whose approachable style makes up for lack of substance; if you’re looking for a simple fall board book, this one will do the trick – Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Odd Beasts: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Animals (Laura Gehl)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Odd Beasts: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Animals, written by Laura Gehl and illustrated by Gareth Lucas, a board book look at some unusual creatures.

Very early readers can take a look at eight odd adaptations in the animal world with this simplified version of a nature primer. Introduced in brief rhyming quatrains (of which there are only three; four animals covered in each of the first two, then a delightfully humorous sign-off in the last), readers can meet the pangolin, the sunfish, the bush baby, and other unique animal pals.

Ambitious. It’s interesting to see such a broad subject get the board book treatment, and I’m on the fence over whether it works or not. The text for each of the eight animals is so brief that it really struggles to illuminate what makes their adaptations so unique; for instance, “this insect’s jumps are strong”, which is not only a bit of an understatement for the giant jumping stick, but fails to even give name to the insect. The artwork, while colorful and pleasing for young eyes, also struggles with this, especially in trying to establish scale on a massive creature like the sunfish. Gehl does include photographs and more details about the animals on the last two spreads, which helps immensely with the educational aspects, but is definitely framed for a slightly older audience. I don’t want to say this book doesn’t work, because honestly, we enjoyed it – JJ loved the artwork and especially the closing lines. The length of the main body makes for a quick read, and reading the supplemental material extends that. Overall, this one is simply a cool concept that falters a bit in its execution, but is worth checking out, especially for young animal enthusiasts; Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Knock Knock, Trick or Treat!: A Spooky Halloween Lift-the-Flap Book (Amy E. Sklansky)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Knock Knock, Trick or Treat!: A Spooky Halloween Lift-the-Flap Book, written by Amy E. Sklansky and illustrated by Chiara Galletti, a fun board book for little ghouls and goblins.

Readers can enjoy a trick-or-treating adventure through a very spooky neighborhood in this Halloween-themed lift-the-flap monster mash. Each of ten front door flaps opens to the reveal a different creepy creature within: a werewolf, a zombie, a vampire, a cyclops, and more! At what appears to be a neighborhood gathering on the final page, readers are assured that these monstrous neighbors aren’t actually scary – after all, they love candy, just like you and me!

Festively cute. Monster fans will delight with the cast of beasties on display, especially lesser-used monsters like the cyclops (a word JJ really enjoyed learning). Galletti’s illustrations are marvelously detailed, adding tons of clever visual gags and Easter eggs that make each “home” and its occupant unique. The rhyming text is simple, has a great rhythm, and is fun to read aloud, even if the lines written on the instead of the flaps can be tricky to make out, especially if you open any of the double doors in the wrong order (plus, as any caregiver with lift-a-flap books knows, those rhymes will be long gone if the flap is torn off by a rambunctious young reader). Also, it was a strange choice that the book revolves around collecting candy through trick-or-treating, yet none of the monsters are offering candy when their doors are opened; its an odd choice that feels like a missed opportunity. Otherwise, the length is perfect for a quick storytime, and JJ enjoyed it. This was a fun and festive way to celebrate the spooky season – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Nom Nom Nom: A Yummy Book with Flaps (Jeffrey Burton)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Nom Nom Nom: A Yummy Book with Flaps, written by Jeffrey Burton and illustrated by Sarah Hwang, a delightfully silly board book for young foodies.

Who’s hungry? Little bookworms are introduced to eight hungry creatures, each more exotic than the last, and given a few suggestions of what that critter might be craving. Two or three of the options are relatively normal, while one is a crazy concoction. As soon as kiddos choose what to feed their new famished friend, they can lift the flap and help the animal NOM NOM NOM its new treat!

Tons of fun. Excellent interactive elements pair perfectly with simple yet engaging text and adorable illustrations, making the entire reading experience a treat. JJ loved being able to pick out what to “feed” each animal (she always choose the outlandish or gross option, of course), and had a great giggle with each NOM NOM NOM flap. This is a simple concept executed very well, and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for very young readers, especially when shared with a caregiver. Perfect for a quick storytime, and we adored it. Overall, Baby Bookworm approved!

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