Little Sleepy Solar System (Dr. John Hutton)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Little Sleepy Solar System, written by Dr. John Hutton and illustrated by Doug Cenko, a delightful board book inspired by the author and illustrator’s previous work, Sleepy Solar System.

Time again to meet the eight (maybe nine?) planets of the solar system, this time as they go about their adorable, anthropomorphized day. Count one through nine as they introduce themselves by name, learn a few distinctive colors, and opposites like near/far, big/small, and cold/hot. Then as everyone tucks in for bed, wish your new planetary friends and their moons a sweet good night.

Thoroughly charming. From the unbelievably sweet artwork of the planets – each meant to emulate fabric with illustrated fibers and stitches, giving them an extra-cozy feel – to the simple rhyming text, this little celestial exploration is a treat. Pluto is an outlier (listed as number “9?” in the first spread), though it is not explained why; parents will have to fill in that bit of trivia. The length is brief, and perfect for the very littlest of bookworms, but JJ also enjoyed this sweet little romp. Overall, a fun planetary primer that young readers are sure to enjoy. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

A Song of Frutas (Margarita Engle)

Hello, friends! Our book today is A Song of Frutas, written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Sara Palacios, a heartwarming love letter to family and Cuban culture.

The young narrator opens the story by enthusiastically recounting the delights of visiting her Abuelo and helping him sell frutas – fruits – in the marketplace. When she visits him in Cuba, she relishes the chance to sing out the names of the fruits, haggle prices, and watch the other pregoneros (singing vendors) sell their own exciting wares and treats. Her favorite visits are on the eve of el año nuevo, when she sells grapes and partakes of the tradition of eating all twelve at midnight, making wishes for each. She always saves a wish that friendship between Cuba and the US will grow, so that someday her Abuelo can visit her home as well.

Sweet, immersive, and touching. Engle’s text perfectly captures the colorful and exciting narrative through a child’s eyes, mixing guileless sincerity with fancy and wonder and creating everyday magic on every page. The gorgeous artwork adds to this immensely, filling the scenes with color, atmosphere, and a diverse cast of characters; the little girl and Abuelo are particularly charming. The choice to include Spanglish in the text adds authenticity, as many dual-language Spanish/English speakers use this blended dialect. Backmatter features author’s notes on the Cuban traditions and current travel restrictions mentioned in the story, which are edifying for readers young and old. The length was great for a storytime, and JJ loved this one. Overall, a heartfelt treat, 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.)

Nuestra América: 30 Inspiring Latinas/Latinos Who Have Shaped the United States (Sabrina Vourvoulias)

Hello, friends! Hispanic Heritage Month begins today, and to kick things off, we’re reviewing Nuestra América: 30 Inspiring Latinas/Latinos Who Have Shaped the United States, written by Sabrina Vourvoulias and illustrated by Gloria Félix.

This collection of mini-biographies, published in partnership with the Smithsonian Institute’s Latino Center, features thirty Americans of Latin descent – immigrants and native – who have made major accomplishments in the fields of art, entertainment, science, business, activism, the military, and more. Readers can learn about community leaders César Chávez and Emma González; entertainers like Jennifer Lopez, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Celia Cruz; athletes like Laurie Hernández and Roberto Clemente; scientists like Luis Walter Álvarez and Ellen Ochoa, and dozens more.

An awesome collection. This compendium of notable Latinx Americans features a wonderfully wide range of backgrounds and fields of achievement. Each mini-biography is about one to two pages long, and features a brief summary of its subject’s early life, accomplishments, legacy, and a featured quote from the luminary themselves. I was particularly pleased to see trans activist Sylvia Rivera, a figure who is often overlooked in both LGBTQ+ and Latinx history. The portraits by Félix are gorgeous, featuring each subject against bold colorful backgrounds; indeed, nearly every page features colors traditionally associated Hispanic heritage. It’s a fascinating and informative read for middle-graders of any background, and a lovely tribute to Hispanic-American heritage. JJ enjoyed the few biographies we read through together, and she loved the portraits. Overall, a fantastic book, 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.)

I Miss Your Sunny Smile (Deb Adamson)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Miss Your Sunny Smile, written by Deb Adamson and illustrated by Anne Zimanski, a tender board book about finding your way out of a bad mood.

A mother says her forlorn-looking child, as they watch the rain through the window, that she misses his sunny smile. She suggests that they search for it around the house, looking for where it might be hiding: under the furniture, perhaps? Or in the cookie jar? The costume chest? The mother attempts to coax it out with a dance party and some bubbles, but nothing does the trick. At last, the pair find the smile hiding with a special stuffed friend, and once it’s found, they head out to enjoy the newly sunny day.

Simple and sweet. The theme here is immediately recognizable and fairly universal: we all have bad days, and sometimes a loved one can help cheer us through distraction and kind encouragement. The relationship between the child and mother characters is cute, and the resolution is satisfying. The art is colorful, but there is an odd choice in the deep contrast between light and shadow that makes some of the visual details difficult to make out. Still, this is a sweet, short read, and JJ enjoyed it. Overall, a nice pick-me-up story for young 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.)

Good Night, Good Night (Sandra Boynton)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Good Night, Good Night by Sandra Boynton, the original, longer version of the author/illustrator’s massively popular The Going To Bed Book.

After nearly 40 years in circulation, The Going To Bed Book gets an expansion based on Boynton’s original 1985 version, with redrawn illustrations to accompany the evergreen bedtime tale’s new layout. Fans of the story will enjoy the familiar rhyming text as it follows a motley group of animals at sea as they prepare for bedtime – brushing teeth, taking a bath, putting on jammies, and even working in a spot of exercise to get out that last minute energy. New scenes include cuddling into bed and a performance by two bunnies of a jaunty song about dreams of playing in the mud (including lyrics and musical notation). At last, the animals cut the lights and let the ocean gently rock them to sleep.

For nearly the entire first two years of JJ’s life, her bedtime routine included reading The Going To Bed Book, a perfectly paced and executed book that readers have been enjoying for decades. So naturally, we were excited to read this expanded version, and we weren’t disappointed! Boynton’s illustrations include all the fun and familiar visuals of the original, spaced out and with additional details to spot but otherwise effortlessly merging old with new. The addition of the song changes the story’s rhythm a bit, but JJ enjoyed the silly, simple tune immensely. Both versions are delightful in their own way, and present an opportunity to caregivers who can start with the board book version for very little bookworms, then introduce the expanded version as they grow. Overall, this was a treat – a fresh and fun new version of an undisputed classic. Baby Bookworm approved!

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