In My Life (John Lennon & Paul McCartney)

Hello, friends! Our book today is In My Life, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, illustrated by Genevieve Santos, a picture book interpretation of the classic Beatles song.

Following the lyrics of the timeless ballad “In My Life”, the artwork opens on a young curly-haired girl discovering a brand new bike with training wheels, and taking it for a spin with an older female character (their relationship is never explicitly defined, but context suggests she is the girl’s mother or caregiver). The girl is shown adventuring on her bike all over their seaside setting: exploring, playing, discovering; sometimes with her companion, sometimes alone. As she grows, her bike changes – losing training wheels, becoming a larger model, changing out colors and handlebars. The girl is shown attending college, commuting through city streets, then returning to the seaside town with her own young daughter in tow (on her bike’s new child seat, naturally). They have someone to visit… and a new bike to try out, so all three girls can begin exploring anew.

Heartwarming, if occasionally puzzling. While “In My Life” is quite possibly one of the most universally affecting Beatles songs, the lyrics do feature the word “lovers” repeatedly, a word which is, frankly, odd to read in a children’s book in its intended context (we chose to “sing” the book through, and I’m afraid it didn’t make those lines any less awkward). That being said, the sweet and gentle story told by the artwork is lovely to behold, as Santo’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations are gorgeous and atmospheric, and the use of color to set each scene’s tone is stunning. The length is great for a storytime, JJ loved that we could sing it, and I won’t lie: the final few pages got me a little choked up and teary-eyed. A few hiccups, but overall a lovely and moving reimagining that music-lovers in particular will adore. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Sleep, My Baby (Dr. Lena Allen-Shore & Jacques J. M. Shore)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Sleep, My Baby, written by Dr. Lena Allen-Shore and Jacques J. M. Shore, and illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, an enormously sweet lullaby from parent to child in board book form.

This bedtime serenade, based on a lullaby written by the author’s mother, opens on a mother carrying her baby upstairs in preparation for sleep. From there, the windows of a neighborhood are shown, with more mother-and-child pairs in different skin tones. The lullaby and art then travels the world, showing more cultures and types of caregiver-child bonds, including fathers, multi-generational, blended, and LGBTQ+ families. At last, the story circles back to the first mother and child, showing that there is nothing more universal than the love between parent and child.

Touching and tender. As the author explains in the forward and afterward, Allen-Shore – a multi-talented creator and educator, as well as a Holocaust survivor – created “Sleep, My Baby” as a lullaby for her sons while endeavoring to promote unity and human compassion. The art and simple structure of the text in this interpretation do a lovely job of combining all these themes, creating a bedtime board book that is perfect for the littlest bookworms and their caregivers. While the tune of “Sleep, My Baby” is not familiar (though it can be found online), the lyrics still work fine in spoken-word form, and the diverse illustrations in soft, dreamy twilight colors are soothing yet packed with detail. The length is perfect for bedtime, and JJ and I both loved it. This one was a treat, and we highly 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.)

Three Squeezes (Jason Pratt)

Hello, friends! We’re back after our move to share a beautiful tale with you. Our book today is Three Squeezes, written by Jason Pratt and illustrated by Chris Sheban, a touching ode to the love between a father and child.

As a baby naps on a blanket in the grass, his father gently takes his hand and gives it three soft squeezes. This becomes a ritual between dad and his boy as the baby grows into a toddler, then a child, then a teen, and eventually a man with a family of his own. Offering comfort through nightmares, broken bones, little league losses, and the death of his faithful dog, these three squeezes – in the form of a hand held or a close embrace – become a secret language between the two, until the dad has become elderly and immobile. And on the final page, as their relationship has come full circle, the meaning of the three squeezes is translated for the reader as well: “I love you.”

A treasure. This gorgeously written and illustrated tale is as warm and comforting as a parent’s loving hug. The gently flowing rhymes are simple and earnest, yet manage to weave in some beautiful symbolism about the cycle of life, from infancy to old age, and how the bonds we make with our loved ones fill it. The art is soft and delicate yet carries equal depth, such as the juxtaposition between a child’s first steps and their graduation walk, or the subtle foreshadowing of the frailty of one’s later years. The length is perfect, and JJ and I both loved it. A perfectly heartwarming tale of fatherly love that just may bring a tear to your eye, 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.)

Am I Yours? (Alex Latimer)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Am I Yours? by Alex Latimer, an adorable dinosaur tale about family.

During a blustery day, a large blue speckled egg is blown out of its nest and rolls down a rocky hillside. Coming to a stop at the bottom, the egg – or rather, the baby dinosaur inside – begins to call out to others passing by, querying “Am I yours?”. Not being able to see the little one inside its egg, the dinos describe their features and ask if the baby shares them. Does he have sharp teeth like T-Rex? No. Spikes like the steggo? Nope. Long neck like Brachio? Nada. As the sun sets and the temperature grows colder, the egg’s occupant begins to panic. Yet the setting sun shines a light on the situation, and the helpful dinosaurs all band together to get the baby home.

Wonderful. This charming title combines a sweet story about kindness and family with a stellar early lesson in some of the most popular species of dinosaur and their distinctive features. The bouncy rhyming text flows wonderfully, and deftly utilizes repetition in a way that makes it a joy to read aloud (this would make a fantastic addition to any dinosaur storytime). The colorful, charming characters are a delight; even the egg manages to have presence and personality. Front and back endpapers even feature dozens of fully-illustrated and labeled dino species for further learning. JJ adored this one, and I did too. A winner that any little dino-lover (and their parents) can enjoy, 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.)

World So Wide (Alison McGhee)

Hello, friends! Our book today is World So Wide, written by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Kate Alizadeh, a tender ode to new families and the joy of welcoming a baby.

Somewhere in the world so wide, there is a person who is the youngest person alive – and once upon a time, it was you. Addressing the reader directly, the narration describes all the firsts that a child experiences – the first things they see, feel, hear, smell, etc. – as illustrations watch a father and mother introduce their own little one to the world around him. Perhaps the most incredible firsts are the feelings felt as a family grows and loves, and perhaps one day, that little person will grow to experience the joys of parenthood themselves.

Heartwarming. This sweet and gentle look at one extended family is soft and comforting in tone, both visually and in the text. Minimal, serene free-verse wraps around the reader like a warm blanket, making for a comforting read. The illustrations are colorful yet equally calm, switching between pleasant scenes of family outings, homey moments, and closeups of the baby and his parents bonding. I particularly liked the visuals of the ending, in which the baby has grown into a father himself; the new father is seemingly a single parent and sports an earring and vaguely alternative hairstyle. It’s a nice, subtle way of showing that families come in all shapes and sizes (his own parents are a mixed-race couple). The length was great, and JJ enjoyed the soothing story. A lovely look at the bond between parents and their babies, 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.)