A Walk in the Woods (Caroline L. Thornton)

Hello, friends! Our book today is A Walk in the Woods, written by Caroline L. Thornton and illustrated by María Finchenko, a sweet indie title about recognizing and celebrating one’s talents.

Bunny’s day begins with a sunny sky and a playful attitude. Yet as she observes her friends, the birds, fluttering around the sky, she feels a twinge of sadness – bunnies can’t fly. She feels this same lament when she views her friend the toad swimming, and again when her bird friends begin to sing. And for all the fine adventures that Bunny has that day, it seems that there are still so many things that bunnies cannot do. It will take a wise old owl console the young bunny and get her to see that her talents are worthy of their own salute.

Lovely. Thornton’s easy, well-flowing rhymes and Finchenko’s gorgeous pastoral illustrations combine to create a story with warmth and purpose. The theme is a classic, and Bunny realizing her self-worth in the final pages is immensely satisfying, especially as the groundwork for it had been subtly laid throughout the story. The soft, dynamic, and passionate artwork has a distinct style that sets it apart from many indie titles, where the illustration is often treated as an afterthought. A vocabulary guide and fun bunny facts are suitable and edifying backmatter. The length is good for an elementary storytime, bordering on long; JJ greatly enjoyed the story, but started getting squirmy near the end. Overall, this is a well-crafted story that is definitely worth a look; Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Hat Tricks (Satoshi Kitamura)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Hat Tricks by Satoshi Kitamura, a splendid tale of a talented magician and her surprising tricks.

What’s this? Why, it’s a black top hat, with two little pointed ears peeking out from inside. Surprise! It’s Hattie the bunny, prestidigitator extraordinaire! She’s about to put on a magic show that will shock and amaze, and the reader can help her perform her mystical tricks. All they have to say are the magic words: “Abracadabra, katakurico… what’s in the hat?” From there, the amazing Hattie will conjure all sorts of friends, from a frightened yellow cat to a massive moose, all from her seemingly bottomless hat. How can Hattie top herself for the grand finale? You’ll just have to wait and see…

Splendid. This whimsical tale features both a light, fun, and genuinely surprising story with charming illustrations and text that was made for reading aloud and audience participation. The chorus of the magic spell was particularly fun to say: a simple phrase for the youngest readers to mimic, and a nice twist on a familiar magical refrain. The animals are adorable and comical, particularly Hattie; I love that Kitamura did not feel the need to “feminize” her look. Hattie dresses in a simple magician’s costume of gold jacket and red bow tie with a magic wand, and her gender is only signified through use of pronouns; no long lashes, bows, or hourglass body shape. The length was perfect for a quick storytime, and JJ had an absolute blast with the playful comedy and characters. This is a great one, especially for group storytimes, 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.)

Bunn Bunns And The Helping Hands (Attila Krutilla)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Bunn Bunns And The Helping Hands by Attila Krutilla, a story about a wayward bunny.

Bunn Bunns is an adventurous young bunny who always seems to get into mischief. As he leaves his house one morning and heads down the path, his mother warns him: “Don’t get lost!”. Bunn Bunns is confident, however – he won’t get lost. Choosing to wander from the path, various other animals give him the same warning, but Bunn Bunns is unconcerned. Finally finding his way back to the path, he realizes that he is at an unfamiliar crossroads; he is, in fact, lost. Confused and frightened, he falls asleep under a tree, where the Girl with the Helping Hands, picks him up and takes him home. She tucks him into bed and leaves him with a snack and a helpful note, promising to designate the path home with bunny prints. When Bunn Bunns awakes the next morning, he is eager to return home – can he follow the girl’s instructions to find his way?

This was a bit of a mixed bag, mainly where the story is concerned. While the language reads and flows well enough (though the name “Bunn Bunns” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue), the plot lacks direction and urgency. Bunn Bunns disregards multiple warnings, wanders off, yet displays no agency in finding his way home. He is rescued by another character with whom he doesn’t interact directly, then follows a single bunny print and… is home. The end. He doesn’t even seem to have learned a lesson from this ordeal – he considers the experience an adventure and is excited to go “adventuring” again tomorrow. It sends a strange message to young readers: wandering away from parents and allowing strangers to bring you into their homes are decidedly inadvisable actions. Beyond that, the art is a bit juvenile and may not appeal to older readers, but younger readers will likely enjoy it – JJ gleefully pointed out bunnies, owls, and frogs to me – and the length is fine. This is a well-intentioned but uneven effort – worth a read perhaps, but definitely with a follow-up discussion on safety. Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Good Day, Good Night (Margaret Wise Brown)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Good Day, Good Night, written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Loren Long, a previously unpublished work by the beloved author of Goodnight Moon that explores the differences between night and day.

A little bunny sits atop his warren, watching as the sun rises and the day begins. Sunlight fills his little rabbit village and his neighbors begin to populate the cozy lanes, delivering papers, doing chores, and playing games. A family of birds swoops and chirps, bees buzz busily around their hive. Then, as the sun begins to creep back down to the horizon, the day slows, with animals and bunny neighbors finishing their days and settling into their homes to sleep.

This is a sweet story with some real charm, exactly what you would expect from a book authored by Brown. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking here, but there is a nice cadence to the text, which is noticeably livelier during the day scenes then mellows through dusk and night, making it very pleasant to read aloud. The narrative can feel a bit disjointed at times, likely due to the story being adapted from an unpolished manuscript, but it’s not enough to sink the story. The illustrations are a good fit, bringing a fresh look to Brown’s narrative style while still making some very cute callbacks to her well-known classic stories and the Clement Hurd illustrations that accompanied them; for instance, the bunny’s bedroom is shown using the same color scheme as the baby bunny’s room from Goodnight Moon. The length was fine, and JJ enjoyed it. Overall, a very nice story of night and day that leaves the reader with a warm feeling, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Yoga Bunny (Brian Russo)

Hello, everybody! Today’s book is Yoga Bunny by Brian Russo, a sweet book about a bunny teaching his friends patience and calm through yoga.

It’s a beautiful day outside, and Bunny is going to spend it doing some yoga. As he begins practicing his poses, a few of his friends stop by to see what he is doing. Bunny invites them to join him, but each refuses: Lizard is tired and cranky, Fox is rushed and flustered, and Bird has terrible hiccups. Bunny is disappointed; he wishes his friends would try yoga, as they might find that it’s practice could help with their problems. Will they ever give it a try? Will Bunny ever find someone to share his love of yoga with?

This was another very calming children’s book about yoga, and in most places, it hit the mark. It introduces a few basic poses within the story (downward dog, sun, tree), with more examples on the inside covers. Unlike I Am Yoga, this is more a linear story about the benefits of yoga than its actual practice, stressing it’s abilities to soothe, calm and focus the practitioner. The art was cute yet calming, and the length was nice. Only one problem: JJ was just not into it. The story seemed to be paced a bit slow for her, and she quickly grew disinterested, even in pointing out the different animal species. This one may be more appropriate for slightly older readers, but more so, for children more familiar and/or invested in yoga. Still, overall it was a nice, soothing book with some adorable illustrations, so we’re still calling this one Baby Bookworm approved.