Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Mike Byrne)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Somewhere Over The Rainbow, illus. by Mike Byrne, a colorful board book with a musical twist.

Using popular song titles to introduce the names of colors to little bookworms, each spread begins with a block color and the title that name-drops that particular shade (“PINK Moon”, “BROWN-Eyed Girl”, “BLUE Suede Shoes”, etc). The opposite page shows an illustration dominated by the featured hue, starring some cute animals hanging out with or displaying the literal interpretation of the song title.

Colorful but disappointing. When I heard the concept for this one, I was excited, but with the exception of some very cute art, this mostly feels like a missed opportunity. The minimalist text is very limiting, especially for young (or even older) readers who are not familiar with with songs being named. In fact, since the song titles are not even identified by artist, readers would have to search outside the title to match the song to its band if they didn’t recognize it(with varied success; “Green Light” by Beyoncé? By Lorde? By John Legend?). The art is very sweet, but similarly feels detached from the songs, showing only the literal interpretation of the title with few exceptions, the most notable of which is a French poodle and its owner wearing some vaguely punk accoutrements for “White Wedding” (which, incidentally, was our favorite illustration). So while the idea of using pop songs to teach colors is a great one, this just feels like it missed the mark, in a way that does little to differentiate it from any other color-learning book. Otherwise, the length was fine, and JJ did enjoy the artwork. So while we weren’t blown away by the execution, this one is still 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’m Feeling School Bus Yellow! (Tina Gallo)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I’m Feeling School Bus Yellow!, written by Tina Gallo and illustrated by Clair Rossiter, a Crayola-themed board book of back-to-school colors.

How do you feel when you go back to school? Do you feel “school bus yellow” while you’re waiting for the bus, bright and excited? Do you feel fun and cheerful, like Blue Violet, when you sit down in your new classroom? Do you feel like energizing Jungle Green as you learn about lizards in the library? What colors do you feel at school?

Disappointing. Despite a very promising premise, this lackluster board book is far more interested in being a marketing tie-in than actually providing any entertainment or education for little bookworms. Only FIVE colors are featured, two of which are simply different shades of yellow, and two of which are, conveniently, proprietary shades of the Crayola company. Every color is described in the most innocuous and bland manner possible, and often in a way that is incongruous with the color in question (Blue Violet does not particularly strike me as “fun, cheerful”). The only bright spot is the artwork, which features anthropomorphized crayons attending and interacting at school, and are charmingly detailed, even featuring a touch of diversity (one crayon uses a wheelchair). Overall, however, this title has little to recommend it – there are a thousand other books about colors, back-to-school, and/or both that leave this colorful ad-campaign-in-disguise rather pale in comparison. A pass from us.

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

Bob Ross: My First Book of Colors (Robb Pearlman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Bob Ross: My First Book of Colors, written by Robb Pearlman and illustrated by Bob Ross, a look at the thirteen signature paint colors of the beloved artist.

“This is your world,” the text begins over a lakeside mountain vista, immediately capturing the soothing timbre and tone of iconic artist Bob Ross. The narrator describes each color – accompanied by a Bob Ross original that showcases it – as though leading the reader through a painting lesson. Titanium White, Alizarin Crimson, Phthalo Blue – each of the thirteen paint colors that Ross favored is brought to life through his work, described with familiar phrases such as “happy little” tree trunks and “it’s just that easy”. After all, this is your world, and you can make it anything you want.

Peaceful and sweet. A love letter to Ross and the fans who grew up with him, a majority of the references may fly over the heads of younger readers. However, for those parents and caregivers who remember Ross so fondly, it’s easy to see how the narration and tone of the book capture his voice and style: soothing, inspiring, and comforting. So while younger readers may not get the same hit of nostalgia, they can still enjoy the lovely colors and serene nature scenes. JJ’s never seen a Bob Ross episode in her life, but she very much enjoyed the artwork and the quietude of the text. The length is perfect for a short storytime, especially for young nature and art lovers. A sweet title that serves as a fine tribute to Ross and his work. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Green On Green (Dianne White)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Green On Green, written by Dianne White and illustrated by Felicita Sala, a lovely meditation on color, the seasons, and family.

As the seasons change around a quiet country home near the shore, the family that lives there – a father, mother, and son, along with their dog and horse – go about their lives. In spring, yellow flowers bloom, yellow bees buzz, and yellow lemonade sits on a table, fresh and cool; yellow on green is the color of spring. In summer, it’s blue on green: the blue of the seashore, the blue of the truck that carried friends and neighbors to the picnic, against the green of the grass and the deep water. So follows brown on green in autumn, with fall leaves and pies and spices. Winter brings white on green, in the snow and foggy breath. And when spring comes again, the green earth grows – and so does the little family.

Absolutely lovely. This heartwarming meditation on life, both that of one family’s as well as the earth as a whole, is filled with the simple, peaceful joys of the changing seasons through the young boy’s perspective. Quiet childhood moments such as reading a book in the summer shade or playing in a pumpkin patch are beautifully illustrated and paired with spare yet deeply evocative text; each scene is serene and comforting in its own way. Especially striking are the traditions between seasons, signaled by a single static element that carried across two pages: a boy’s feet in yellow galoshes becomes bare feet sprinting through ocean surf, etc. The subplot of the family welcoming a new baby is a perfect button, and though it is a bit strange that mom is noticeably pregnant for the entire year before the baby’s birth, it’s forgivable as younger readers will likely not notice the oddity. The length is perfect for any age, and JJ loved the soothing tone and gorgeous artwork. A gentle and tender tale that any reader will enjoy, and it’s 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.)

The Colors Of Christmas (Jill Howarth)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Colors Of Christmas by Jill Howarth, a cheery look at the rainbow of colors we see during the holiday season.

Latest in a playful series of holiday board books, our tale begins in a tiny town of mice residents, all busily preparing for Christmas Eve. And with every preparation and tradition, with every gift wrapped and cookie baked, the holiday is positively filled with color. There‘s the bright red of Santa’s suit, the crisp white of the falling snow, the lush greens of trees and garlands, the silver tinsel on every bough, and much more. At last, when Christmas morning dawns, the town is abuzz with excitement and festivities – and of course, plenty of color.

Adorable! Howarth’s board books – with her retro folk-inspired artwork featuring vibrant hues and charming animals – are always a delight. And her command of color is put to fantastic work here, exploring how each shade of the rainbow can be part of Christmas. The examples are sound, and never feel like a stretch, even for colors that may not immediately come to mind for the holiday. It’s a great way to encourage young readers learning their colors to look for them in their own holiday, and JJ had a fabulous time spotting the examples within each color-themed spread. The length is perfect for a quick read, and the rhyming text is bouncy and flows well. This makes for a lovely Christmastime read for little bookworms, and we recommend 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.)