Winter Lullaby (Dianne White)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Winter Lullaby, written by Dianne White and illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki, a sweet tale of a bear family and the approach of winter.

The autumn in coming to a close and the air is crisp and cold, so Mama Bear calls for her little one to prepare for sleep. Seeing other animals like mouse, raccoon, skunk, and others scurrying about on the fallen snow, Small Bear asks why they must go to sleep if the others are all staying up. Mama Bear patiently explains that all the other animals are making their own last-minute preparations before going into hibernation themselves, just like bears do. She promises that when spring comes and the world is green again, they will wake and play. Until then, Mama Bear and Small Bear snuggle in tight and let the warmth of their den and the winter night’s lullabies soothe them to sleep.

A delightful wintertime bedtime tale. Caregivers will easily see the parallels between Small Bear bemoaning the fact that others get to stay up later, and White uses this as a nice way to counteract childhood bedtime FOMO as well as to explore how different animals hibernate over the winter. Kaulitzki’s illustrations are precious, using long lines and a contrast of warmth and cold to create cozy spaces, brisk landscapes, and charming animals, especially the bear families. The switch between regular and bolded text for the dialogue can be a little confusing at times, and two different fonts may have been a better choice. However, everything else works beautifully, and the length is great for a elementary-age storytime. JJ loved the all animals, especially the bond between Mama Bear and Small Bear. Overall, this is a winter bedtime treat that’s perfect for curling up with on cold nights. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author 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.)

Who Eats Orange? (Dianne White & Robin Page)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Who Eats Orange? by Dianne White & Robin Page, a gorgeous and engaging look at colors, food, and wildlife.

Who eats orange? Rabbits do (carrots), and so do chickens (cantaloupe). Goats and pigs do, too! And gorillas- wait! Gorillas don’t eat orange, they eat green! In this rhythm, the reader follows the diets of different animals, large and small, from different areas around the globe – ocean, farm, forest, etc. – each themed around a different color. At last, the reader is shown a rainbow of food – all delicious natural foods of the human diet.

What a clever concept! It seems complicated, and feels a little hard to explain, but works so well in the finished product. JJ was eager to name both the colors and the animals, all of which are illustrated with stunning realism in mixed-media patterns and vibrant colors. The text that signaled the transition between colors was a little awkward to read aloud, and might have been phrased a little differently. It’s a minor complaint, more than made up for in the quality of art and information on the animals, their diets, and their habitats in the backmatter. The length was perfect for storytime, and JJ loved it. This is a really great book for learning about animals from around the world, reinforcing color concepts, and is just plain beautiful to look at. We definitely recommend it – 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.)

Top 5: Back To School

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Hello, friends! As summer winds down and we start heading towards fall, we wanted to bring you a new Top 5 list! This month’s theme: Back To School! We’re taking a look at some of our favorite books about school and education. We’ve chosen books that recognize the trepidation that little bookworms may be feeling as the first day grows near and celebrate all there is to love about going to school: new friends, new experiences, and the power of education.

So please enjoy our Top 5 list, in no particular order, of our favorite Back To School books:

1. School’s First Day Of School (Adam Rex, illus. Christian Robinson)

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One summer, a special building is built on an empty lot, and named Frederick Douglass Elementary. School thinks that’s a very nice name for himself, and he enjoys spending his days with Janitor, who comes to clean him. He tells Janitor as much, only to be surprised by his reply: soon, School will be filled with teachers and children who come to learn and play! How scary! Will they like School? Will they be nice to him? Will he make any friends like Janitor? The story follows School through his tumultuous first day and shows that even School gets first-day jitters.

“The illustrations are cute and colorful, and really bring School and his inhabitants to life, and the story is just great. It’s perfect for any child who might be feeling a bit unsure about heading to school.”

2. Dad’s First Day (Mike Wohnoutka)

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After an entire summer of playing with his dad, Oliver is ready to for the next adventure: his first day of school. But the first day of school can be a nerve-wracking thing… for Oliver’s dad! His dad complains of tummy aches and foreboding feelings, but Oliver reassures him: school will probably be lots of fun! The day that Oliver goes, dad gets left behind, and begins to worry more than ever. But after seeing Oliver happy with his new friends, we realizes that it’s time to let his little buddy strike out on his own.

“It’s enjoyable how the story flips expectations and has the father as the one most nervous about Oliver’s first day – not only is this humorous for little readers, but it’s a clever and subtle way of showing that nervousness about school is natural, and even parents can feel it. It also opens up the possibility for a discussion of these feelings so that parents and kids can help each other settle their nerves.”

3. I Walk With Vanessa: A Story About A Simple Act Of Kindness (Kerascoët)

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Vanessa, a new girl at school, is shy around her more boisterous classmates. When school ends, she walks home alone, where she is stopped by a bully who taunts her to the point of tears. Vanessa runs home crying, much to the dismay of another girl, who has watched the entire exchange. The girl worries over it all night, until she has an idea over breakfast. On her way to school, she stops by Vanessa’s house and offers to walk together. Vanessa accepts, and they chat as they go, until another friend joins them. Then another, then another, until a whole crowd of children is walking Vanessa to school, and she is protected from the chagrined bully. That day, Vanessa begins getting to know her new friends, finally feeling safe enough to come out of her shell.

“It speaks to the sheer perfection of Kerascoët’s art that words aren’t needed to tell a compelling, touching, and uplifting story; in the absence of text, the bully’s harsh words are still cutting and cruel, the downcast expressions of the two girls speaks volumes, and the reader can practically hear the chatter of friendly, supportive children during the final scenes. The simplicity of the story can speak to readers of any age: hatred and callousness always loses when good people come together to stand against it.”

4. Ruby’s Wish (Shirin Yim Bridges, illus. Sophie Blackall)

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In a big house in China, a long time ago, there lived an enormous family. One of the grandchildren was Ruby, a little girl so called because she loved red and wore it every day. Ruby’s grandfather hired a teacher for the many grandchildren, and while it was unusual for the time, he allowed both the boys and the girls to attend lessons. Ruby loved school, and worked hard every day to master her subjects (harder even than the boys, because she had to spend her free time learning cooking and homemaking as well). One day, Ruby writes a poem for school  that expresses her sadness at being born a girl. Her grandfather is concerned: why does Ruby think that the boys of the home are treated better? Will Ruby have the courage to speak her mind, and tell her grandfather of the opportunities she longs for?

“This was a fantastic story, made all the more moving because it’s true. Ruby is a wonderful role model for little ones: she tells her grandfather of the special treatment the boys get, and expresses a desire to attend university. Moved by her passion, her grandfather secures her entrance to a school, both he and Ruby bucking the gender limitations of the time. It’s a triumphant ending, and teaches an important lesson: both men and women must fight for gender equality.”

5. Goodbye Brings Hello (Dianne White, illus. Daniel Wiseman)

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Changes can be daunting, especially the big ones. But it’s important to remember that when we say goodbye to the old, we say hello to the new. You may be sad that you’ve outgrown your beloved old sweater, but it makes room in your closet for a fresh new winter coat. It may be hard to give away your old tricycle, but it means that you’re ready to take your big girl bike out for a ride. Haircuts, new shoes, flying in a plane from home to go visit grandparents – leaving the old might be scary, but it allows to new into our lives. And after all that changing and growing, you might just be ready for the next step, and the one after that, knowing that for each goodbye, there’s a chance to say hello.

“This is a great way of discussing change with kids, and encourages them to find what’s exciting about what that change may bring. The simple yet adorable illustrations give plenty of examples – culminating in the children’s first day of school – but the lesson and language is broad enough to help little ones through any sort of major or minor life changes they may be dealing with. A cheerful, diverse cast of kids are featured in the art, which keeps things minimal but still manages to express emotion and humor wonderfully. […] A dose of encouraging words for the unsure that can help during difficult transitions, and we loved it.”

That’s our list! Did we miss any of your favorites? Do you have a book you would like to recommend to us? Let us know in the comments, or message us from our Contact page. Thanks so much!

Goodbye Brings Hello (Dianne White)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Goodbye Brings Hello, written by Dianne White and illustrated by Daniel Wiseman, a cheerful and gentle look at why changes – even scary ones – can be exciting.

Changes can be daunting, especially the big ones. But it’s important to remember that when we say goodbye to the old, we say hello to the new. You may be sad that you’ve outgrown your beloved old sweater, but it makes room in your closet for a fresh new winter coat. It may be hard to give away your old tricycle, but it means that you’re ready to take your big girl bike out for a ride. Haircuts, new shoes, flying in a plane from home to go visit grandparents – leaving the old might be scary, but it allows to new into our lives. And after all that changing and growing, you might just be ready for the next step, and the one after that, knowing that for each goodbye, there’s a chance to say hello.

Just lovely. This is a great way of discussing change with kids, and encourages them to find what’s exciting about what that change may bring. The simple yet adorable illustrations give plenty of examples – culminating in the children’s first day of school – but the lesson and language is broad enough to help little ones through any sort of major or minor life changes they may be dealing with. A cheerful, diverse cast of kids are featured in the art, which keeps things minimal but still manages to express emotion and humor wonderfully. The length is great, and JJ enjoyed the bright colors and simple figures. A dose of encouraging words for the unsure that can help during difficult transitions, and we loved it. 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.)