Our Favorite Day of the Year (A. E. Ali)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Our Favorite Day of the Year, written by A. E. Ali and illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell, a lovely tale of friendship and diversity.

On the first day of kindergarten, Ms. Gupta tells the class that by the end of the year, they will become close friends with their classmates – but Musa isn’t so sure. As a way to learn about their classmates, Ms. Gupta encourages them each to share their favorite day of the year. Discussing his own favorite, Eid, with his tablemates, Musa is surprised to find that they don’t celebrate Eid as well. As the year passes, each student shares their favorite day and how it is celebrated: Musa shares the many foods he eats during Eid from the members of his multicultural mosque; Mo shares the sweet treats of Rosh Hashanah; Moisés wishes “Feliz Navidad!” as he explains Las Posadas; Kevin recounts what his family learned on the science-centric Pi Day. By the end of the year, the class has learned about lots of different favorite days – and about their new best friends.

Wonderful. This rich look at cultural, religious, and racial diversity does a splendid job of introducing, through four highlighted holidays, the beauty and fun of immersing oneself in other cultures, as well as the friendships and respect for others it can build. In addition to the four holidays highlighted, many more are depicted in the warm and lovely artwork, as are other forms of diversity (Mo’s family is blended and LGBTQ+, Kevin’s ponytail and pink scrunchie suggest he is gender-nonconforming). So while the story on its own is a brief yet enriching read, these details encourage repeat readings and further research (the backmatter only features descriptions of the four holidays covered in the story). A fantastic tale of friendship, 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.)

A Vulture Came To Town (B•dice)

Hello, friends! Our book today is A Vulture Came To Town by B•dice, a visually striking story of diversity.

The day a vulture came to town, the other animals were sent into a tizzy. Immediately, most are distrustful of the outsider; his bald skull, his oily black wings, and his diet of carcasses is enough to make every furred and feathered member pull away in disgust and fear. Confused, the vulture points out that he cannot help how he looks or what he eats; in fact, he shares many similarities with other animals in the group. This revelation causes the animals to splinter further, now looking at each other as enemies because of their differences. It’ll take one level-headed mouse and a bit of courage to convince the others that being different isn’t a crime, and one should never judge vulture by his feathers.

Very interesting. With a premise that is fairly straightforward – an always-welcome, well-argued lesson in diversity and acceptance – the tale of vulture and the other animals is one that hits the expected beats at first. A newcomer is ostracized for being unfamiliar or strange, until a brave voice stands up to defend the virtues of diversity – a resolution the narrative ties in nicely to a tale about the animal kingdom (for instance, Mink’s logical argument that Vulture eating Wolf’s leftovers is better than just leaving them there to rot). The rhyming text has a good rhythm and reads well, and the length is fine. What sets Vulture apart is its unique visuals – a black-and-white abstract geometric style that often depicts the animals and scenes in unexpected perspectives; a smile clawed foot, falling feather, or large text in stark white against a black background, or vice versa. It’s a challenging art style, but one that both very young readers and their older siblings might find stimulating. The book has some of the rough edges often found in indie titles, mostly in pacing, but JJ enjoyed the story (though she did find some of the illustrations confusing). Still, this quirky title is definitely worth a look, and we recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

All The Ways To Be Smart (Davina Bell)

Hello, friends! Our book today is All The Ways To Be Smart, written by Davina Bell and illustrated by Allison Colpoys, a delightful ode to different types of intelligence.

Being smart is more than just one thing; it’s not just being good at taking tests or doing math or getting good grades in school. No, a person can be smart in lots of ways! They can be smart at making crafts or drawing pictures, or dancing, or being brave. They can be smart at caring for others, especially when that person is hurt or shy. They can be smart at imagination, play, music, tea parties, or even blowing bubbles. Even simply sitting still and being quiet; this is something smart, too. Rest assured, not everyone has to be smart in the same way – and sharing all the different ways we are smart makes the world better every day.

LOVED. THIS. From the bright, fluorescent illustrations featuring a diverse cast of children and imaginary creatures, to the comforting and important message about the values of emotional and technical intelligence, this is an adorably cute yet critically valuable lesson for young kids. In particular, the themes of how being smart in often-overlooked ways struck me; as the parent of a special-needs child, it’s wonderful to find stories that celebrate people who think differently, yet are no less intelligent. For neuro-atypical or otherwise differently-abled kids like JJ, a book like this can make them, and their caregivers, feel seen. It’s a perfect length for storytime, and well-worth a read by any young, developing mind. We adored this one, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

When Pencil Met Eraser (Karen Kilpatrick & Luis O. Ramos, Jr.)

Hello, friends! Our book today is When Pencil Met Eraser, written by Karen Kilpatrick and Luis O. Ramos, Jr., and illustrated by Germán Blanco.

There once was a pencil who loved to draw. His art was bold, well-shaded, and full of intricate detail. There was also once an eraser; he loved to create art as well, but through the use of negative space. Much to Pencil’s consternation, as he creates dark, brooding, and congested scenes, Eraser hops in to add levity and opportunities for lightness: a view of the sky in a crowded city, a path through a thick meadow of wildflowers, or stars in a forest sky. Pencil is unimpressed by his compatriot’s efforts, preferring to work alone. However, as he challenges Eraser’s creativity in an effort to drive him away, he begins to see the beauty and possibility in their teamwork… and in making a new friend.

Lovely! The story is a simple one that encourages working together and appreciating the talents of others, but there’s also a nice lesson in art and creative use of negative space hidden within. The characters are adorable, particularly Eraser’s unflappable cheerfulness, and the pencil artwork is quite stunning, providing loads of visual interest. The clever twist ending is also a treat, and drives home the importance and value of a diversity of talent when tackling projects. The length is great, and JJ loved the artwork and chipper dialogue. We liked this one a lot – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

There’s Only One You (Kathryn Heling & Deborah Hembrook)

Hello, friends! Our book today is There’s Only One You, written by Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook, and illustrated by Rosie Butcher, a lovely celebration of diversity.

As a young red-headed girl gets dressed, the unseen narrator opens with a universal truth: you are unique! There is only one of you in the whole universe. The girl heads to school, spends time playing with her friends, and enjoys a class field trip to the zoo, as the text reflects on all the wonderful ways we can be different: hair color and style, skintone, personality, how we handle emotions, interests, talents, and much more. Each page applauds these differences, and points out that different people make stronger groups: each member thinks their own way and has a fresh perspective. At last the narrator points out that families can be different too, as the red-haired girl’s two moms pick her up from school, along with a group of equally diverse families picking up their own littles ones. The families enjoy some evening fireworks together as the narrator concludes that being unique is simply the best way to be – it’s one more thing we all share.

Delightful yet poignant. There can never be too many children’s books that encourage little ones to embrace their differences and unique qualities; what sets this book apart is the sheer breadth of diversity covered in both the text and artwork. Children and adults are in a multitude of skintones; multiple vision- and hearing-impaired children feature, as well as children with physical impairments. Boys are shown dealing with emotions, girls are shown displaying courage and interest in science. Freckles and tattoos (on adults) are highlighted, and a diversity of family types (single-parent, multi-generational, LGBTQ, etc.) are shown. In fact, the only area of diversity seemingly unexplored is faith (a Hindu mother is shown, but her faith is not discussed), and it’s kind of a shame; I would have loved to see this area covered as well, especially by a book that hits so many right notes in the other areas. Still, the message is phenomenal, the length perfect, and JJ and I both loved it. A great way to celebrate diversity, 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.)