ABC, Rise Up and Be! (Annemarie Riley Guertin & Sandie Sonke)

Hello, friends! Our book today is ABC, Rise Up and Be! by Annemarie Riley Guertin and Sandie Sonke, an inspirational alphabet book full of encouragement for little bookworms.

Opening on a playground full of youngsters, the reader follows as the diverse cast of kids are encouraged – by the text and by illustrated versions of famous role models from history – to adopt various virtues, listed in alphabetical order. Short affirmations accompany each of the twenty-six aspirational attributes, from “Accepting” to “Zestful”, with the final reminder that the most important thing to be is to simply be oneself.

Lots of style, less substance. This quick read is certainly beautiful to look at: the bright and cheery colors, eye-catching font, and folk-inspired artwork is very cute, featuring a diverse cast of central characters and sweet-faced versions of the historical figures meant to represent each of the alphabetical virtues. However, the affirmations that accompany them are mostly feel-good platitudes, momentarily heartwarming but fairly forgettable. And while the historical figures are noted by name and mini-bio in the front- and end-papers, it would have been far more edifying to have this information on the page where the person appeared; we ended up spending a lot of time flipping back and forth to identify luminaries who were not immediately recognizable in illustrated form. Otherwise, the length was fine, and JJ really did enjoy the artwork. So while it felt slightly lacking in emotional impact for an empowerment book, it’s worth a look for lovely illustrations, and we’re calling it Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Step By Step (Alice B. McGinty)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Step By Step, written by Alice B. McGinty and illustrated by Diane Goode, a sweet lesson in patience and perseverance.

Sometimes, the world can feel very overwhelming – there are so many things to do, so many people to see, and so much on your plate. But just like we all learned to walk step by step, or talk word by word, we can take on these big challenges the same way: “step by step, one by one”. As the illustrations follow a youngster in a yellow hoodie through their day – getting ready, going to school, working through lessons, etc. – we are reminded again and again that the big things aren’t so daunting, if we only remember to take them one step at a time.

Sweet, cheerful, and uplifting. A lesson that bookworms of all ages can appreciate, this gentle tale sees the young unnamed protagonist making friends “smile by smile” and cleaning messes “toy by toy”, each page reinforcing the main theme in a way that becomes affirming and comforting by the end. The artwork is colorful yet equally soft and soothing, with charming, energetic characters in the child’s class that represent a fair diversity (though all the characters, even the ones that present black, are relatively light-skinned). The length was great, and this one REALLY resonated with JJ – like most kids going back to in-person school since the pandemic, she has had to make new friends and learn classroom rules, which can be flustering. So a simple lesson in slowing down, having patience and persistence, and taking challenges as they come? Perfect, for her and any reader who may be feeling a little nervous or overwhelmed. Overall, a delight – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Run Like A Girl: 50 Extraordinary and Inspiring Sportswomen (Danielle Brown)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Run Like A Girl: 50 Extraordinary and Inspiring Sportswomen by Danielle Brown, a collection of mini-biographies of incredible female athletes from around the world.

“‘You run like a girl!’ – If you ever hear these words it’s time to smile and put on your game face,” begins the introduction to this awesome compendium of award-winning, accomplished athletes – all of whom also happen to be women. Readers can learn about fifty athletes from nearly as many different sports, from running to surfing to mountain climbing to basketball to cricket to jousting, and dozens more.

Empowering. Brown, a Paralympic athlete herself, gives readers a comprehensive collection of girl power role models; the athletes featured are from all around the world, representing a vast myriad of races, ages, nationalities, and abilities, from household names like Simone Biles and Bethany Hamilton to lesser-known champions like Sophie Christiansen and Dame Ellen MacArthur. Equally diverse are the disciplines represented, from well-known sports like soccer and gymnastics to less mainstream pursuits like heptathlon and fell running. Each two-page spread features a mini-biography as well as a quote, an info table, and interesting factoids, as well as a minimalist illustration of each athlete. The length makes this one best for older elementary or middle-grade bookworms – JJ was definitely through after a few entries – but it’s a great read for any kid, male or female, interested in sports. 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.)

Dragons Are the Worst! (Alex Willan)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dragons Are the Worst! by Alex Willan, the hilarious follow-up to the author/illustrator’s previous tale, Unicorns Are the Worst!

The diminutive goblin narrator from Unicorns is back, this time with a new complaint: dragons. Namely, that everyone thinks they are SO scary and intimidating! Sure, they are huge and they can breathe fire and they sometimes trap royalty at the top of tall towers, but Goblin just doesn’t see the big deal. He could be very scary and intimidating if he WANTED to! He knows lots of scary spells, and has a positively terrifying pigeon costume! And when the goblin encounters a band of knights on a dragon-hunt, he sets out to prove just how scary he can be – with surprising results!

Uproarious fun. There are only a few children’s books that can tickle both JJ’s and my funny bones, but this one absolutely had us in stitches. The clever narration and dialogue, along with the fantastically funny illustrations, made for a reading experience that introduced new laughs with every flip of the page. A sequence in which the goblin is shown fleeing from increasingly docile-looking dragons (including a stuffed animal) had us screaming. The only disappointment was the final resolution, which boiled down to an extended poop joke; JJ was highly amused, I was less so, but poop humor can be pretty subjective. However, for the most part, this was such a delightfully entertaining read that we would encourage readers of any age to give it a try – perfect length for a storytime, it was a hoot to read aloud, and JJ and I had a blast. 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.)

Science School: 30 Awesome STEM Experiments to Try At Home (Laura Minter & Tia Williams)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Science School: 30 Awesome STEM Experiments to Try At Home by Laura Minter and Tia Williams, a collection of science-themed activities for kids to attempt with everyday objects.

How do magnets work? Or a kaleidoscope? Why is the moon full sometimes, but only half-full others? What makes an ecosystem? And what on earth is oobleck? Kids can learn the answers to these questions and many more with this STEM-based activity guide, filled with 30 “experiments” that young readers can try with household materials. By germinating seeds, making chromatography flowers, or even cooking up their own butter and slime, young scientists are introduced the science terminology and concepts like cohesive force, propulsion, and non-Newtonian fluids.

Awesome, indeed! This activity guide balances learning with fun by choosing a range of crafts and model experiments from a number of scientific disciplines. The activities are simple in construction, and most can easily be replicated with items that can be found around the house. Each features clear photography and illustrations to walk bookworms through the instructions while also breaking down the STEM/STEAM elements that the experiment exhibits into easily-understood language. This is a great manual for any home library, and can provide families with a wealth of rainy-day activities that are both fun and educational. JJ loved checking out the various experiments (she was a huge fan of oobleck), and we both had a blast with this one. A great guide for any budding scientist, 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.)