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.)

Friday Night Wrestlefest (J. F. Fox)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Friday Night Wrestlefest, written by J. F. Fox and illustrated by Micah Player, a hilarious account of one family’s unique weekly tradition.

Friday night, ladies and gents! School’s out, the pizza’s been eaten, and now it’s time for the main event: WRESTLEFEST – BATTLE TO THE BEDTIME! Tonight, It’s sibling duo the Tag Team Twins – Peanut Brother and Jellyfish – facing off against the Dangerous Daddoo! In their homemade wrestling regalia, the opponents enter a no-holds-barred throwdown, complete with moves like the “swirling shark-clone” and “codfish kisses”. And when special guests Big Bald Baby and Mama-Rama join in with some surprise moves, the match becomes a must-see event! Who will be victorious?

Charming and hilarious fun. It’s always awesome to see a such a unique concept for a picture book, especially when it’s so well-executed, and this light-hearted family tale is just that. The announcer-style text is filled with punny humor that hits the rare note of clever-not-cringey, and is an absolute blast to read and hear aloud; JJ was in stitches throughout, even having never watched a wrestling match in her life. The illustrations balance the epic fantasy and sweet reality of Wrestlefest wonderfully, and do a fantastic job of showing dynamic action that isn’t violent. The length is perfect for a quick and fun read, and we really loved this one. A hilarious bedtime treat, 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.)

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.)