Dear Little One (Nina Laden & Melissa Castrillon)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dear Little One by Nina Laden and Melissa Castrillon, a gorgeous ode to the beauty of the natural world.

Taking the form of a letter, the narration opens with the titular salutation, greeting both the reader and the unnamed child protagonist, who is poking a finger into a rippling body of water. The lyrical text follows as the child explores a series of natural environments with their canine companion, encouraging them to appreciate and marvel at the beauty of nature and the myriad life that fills it – animals, insects, plants, seas, mountains, and more. The author of the letter charges their “little one” to be a steward of the Earth, to preserve it, and to care for it as the Earth cares for them, before signing off – “Love, Mother Nature.”

Gorgeous. Those who are fans of Laden and Castrillon’s previous collaborations, If I Had A Little Dream and Yellow Kayak, will be delighted to find another beautifully written and breathtaking illustrated adventure in this title. The conservationist message isn’t necessarily subtle, but the text conveys it in an imploringly heartfelt tone that never feels preachy, but rather empowering and inspiring. The spellbinding, dreamlike illustrations are simply stunning, blending a palate of cool greens and purples with fiery oranges and reds that is all at once soothing and invigorating. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved the intricate art and calming tone of the text. A beautiful way to encourage children to explore and revere the natural world, and we loved 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.)

The Nature Girls (Aki)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Nature Girls by Aki, a delightful romp through some of nature’s biomes with an intrepid group of explorers.

The troop of sixteen inquisitive young minds from last year’s The Weather Girls is back, this time to explore the different biomes that can be found on our planet. From the dense and lush rainforest, to dry desert plains, to snowy tundras, the group travels across each biome by boat, plane, dogsled and even a friendly camel. And when they’ve visited them all, they’ll keep on exploring – the world is big, and there’s still plenty to see while sharing good times with friends.

Adorable! I hadn’t read the previous book in this series, but this made me want to pick it up right away; with sweet rhyming text and charming illustrations of a diverse group of young female friends showing curiosity, courage, and a sense of sisterhood, what’s not to love? The actual science of the biomes is not as in-depth as other books on the subject, as some are not even named in the text (though each gets a short paragraph of summary in the backmatter), and the spectrum of wildlife that lives in each is spotty biome-to-biome. However, as an introduction to Earth’s biomes, it gives a nice overview while encouraging the reader to go exploring themselves to learn more. The art is the best feature here, with lovely scenery and heartwarming scenes of the girls enjoying each other’s company, featuring adorable details in the lively (yet never too busy) group scenes. The length is perfect for any age, and JJ loved it. A joyful adventure for the little explorer in your life, 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.)

Touch The Earth (Julian Lennon)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Touch The Earth, written by Julian Lennon with Bart Davis and illustrated by Smiljana Coh, a look at global issues relating to water.

See this white feather? It’s more than it appears. Give the book a shake and the feather transforms into the White Feather Flier, a sentient airplane who helps children care for the Earth. By tilting the book and pressing illustrated “buttons”, readers can pilot around the world and learn about water-related environmental and humanitarian concerns. Further interactions help provide water to drought- or contamination-stricken areas, clean polluted oceans, and more. After, it’s time to fly home; the reader has helped to touch the earth in so many ways.

Mixed feelings. The interactive elements were wonderful – JJ loved “flying” the plane and pressing “buttons”, and it made for a very engaging experience. The inspiration for the White Feather Flyer, explained by Lennon in the backmatter, is touching. Otherwise, the book is uneven. While the intention of encouraging children to take interest and action in improving their world is good, the book provides no concrete ways in which kids can do so. The buttons make for an engaging reading experience, but they send an odd message for a book about global activism – there is no “magic button” to provide clean water, food, or oceans. These things take money, work, and effort, and I would have liked to see readers encouraged to engage in practical ways like these as well. The illustrations were very cute, but there was an uncomfortable choice in making the “savior” children primarily white while all the people they are “helping” are people of color. There’s also a message that we should be irrigating natural deserts to grow food for the poor, seeming to forget that deserts are their own rather important ecosystems. The length was fine, and JJ liked the interactive elements, but otherwise a bit of a mess. Not for us.

Earth!: My First 4.54 Billion Years (Stacy McAnulty)

Hello friends, and Happy Earth Day! To help celebrate our lovely blue planet, we’re reading Earth!: My First 4.54 Billion Years, written by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by David Litchfield, a unique narrative of Earth’s natural history as told by the planet itself.

“Hi, I’m Earth!” begins our narrator, who most will immediately recognize as our very own home planet – though she prefers to be called “Planet Awesome”. Earth takes the reader on a tour of her history and geology, the solar system, and even a crash course on some of the most significant events in her life: dinosaurs, Pangaea, and her newest friends, Homo sapiens (that’s us!). She encourages us to be kind to her – she’s one-of-a-kind after all – and enjoy our stay! She is pretty awesome, after all.

This was such a clever concept, and we really enjoyed it! It was fun to read and learn about the Earth from the perspective of the planet herself, especially with healthy doses of tongue-in-cheek humor and a wealth of educational info covered. The art is great, and really give a personality to every character, be they person, animal, or astronomical body. However, there are a few illustrations that young readers could potentially find distressing: two sad-looking whales caught in a sailor’s net, an asteroid with a threatening grin hurtling toward a field of frightened animals. It’s a small thing, but could upset littler ones, so it’s worth noting. Otherwise, the length was great, the educational aspects are phenomenal, and JJ and I both enjoyed it overall. And awesome way to get kids interested in our planet, 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.)

Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth (Oliver Jeffers)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers, a charmingly sweet welcome guide to our planet for the newest arrivals.

Welcome, new person! Here we are; this is Earth, a big globe spinning in a massively bigger universe, and carrying all of human and plant and animal life as we know it. There are pointy, cold mountains, and hot, flat grasslands, and deep, mysterious oceans (though we can talk more about the latter once you’ve learned to swim). There are all kinds of people here, all different shapes and sizes and colors, but all of them people just like you. There are stars and constellations and planets and solar systems in the skies, and car and cities and animals here on earth, and inside your brain? Oh, there’s the potential for even more than all of that combined! It can be a little overwhelming, but we’ll take it step by step as you grow. And if you have any questions, you can always ask me, or other family, or anyone really. We are here, after all – you’re never alone on Planet Earth.

Phenomenal. Jeffers created Here We Are as a gift for his first child, and it shows in the care, humor, and affection that sing from each page. The art is positively lovely: gorgeous, sweeping land-, sea-, and starscapes blended with Jeffers signature quirky details and characters. A spread featuring dozens of animals makes for delightful identification practice; another featuring a tongue-in-cheeky look at the solar system informs and amuses. The text is clever, sweet, and full of wonder at the world around. The length is great, and JJ absolutely loved it. The rare story that little ones can enjoy more and more and they grow, and that encourages us to be curious and kind. Baby Bookworm approved!