The Sunny Adventure (Ira Alice)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Sunny Adventure, written by Ira Alice and illustrated by Elena Teplova, a sweet tale of friendship.

A young fox named Redkin wakes up in her cozy den, nervous for the day; her mother has tasked her with hunting her own food for the first time, and bringing home dinner. Wondering how she should go about finding something delicious for her and her mother to eat, she notices the bright sun shining in the sky. It looks beautiful and warms her fur, and she wonders: perhaps the sun tastes as good as it feels! Determined to bring the sun home for dinner, Redkin sets off, but quickly finds herself in over her head in the unfamiliar forest. Stumbling into a swamp, she crosses paths with a small yet deceptively brave young toad named Loudcroak, who upon hearing Redkin’s quest to find the sun, offers to assist her in exchange for a tiny piece to eat as well. And so the two begin an adventure and a race against time, forming a surprising friendship along the way.

Charming. This indie early reader is a slightly longer title than we usually review, but the simple, straightforward language and easy-to-follow plot make it a solid choice for little ones beginning to tackle longer stories. There are some stumbles, mostly in logic: Redkin’s mother tells her to bring home her own food without ever teaching her how, and animals describe something as tasting like “warm pancakes” despite there being no indication of human interaction. Yet the story itself, while fairly basic, is quite sweet. Redkin and Loudcroak encounter several obstacles and other creatures, helping each other and forming a bond, one that is eventually tested when the two return to Redkin’s den and find that Loudcroak could technically be considered dinner (not to worry: the fox refuses to eat her new friend). It’s a pleasant, satisfying story, bolstered by some rather lovely illustrations of the characters against autumnal forest backdrops. The length was such that we had to take it in pieces for someone JJ’s level, but those ready to move to chapter books may enjoy this romp. Overall, it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller (Kate Read)

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Hello, friends! Our book today is One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller by Kate Read, an exciting book of numbers for little readers.

One (1) famished fox has two (2) sly eyes, and the wily creature spots three (3) plump hens. As this barnyard thriller unfolds, we follow the dastardly fox as it plots against the hens, aiming to procure their five (5) delicious eggs. It sneaks into the henhouse that night, and the hens are started by ten (10) sharp teeth! Will this counting adventure end in tragedy? Or is there something in even greater numbers that awaits…

Colorful and clever. Read composes her simple yet entertaining story – with a wickedly funny twist – using a judicious economy of language, confining each page to a number, a descriptor, and the subject. It keeps things easy for the smallest reader while combining some core concepts of vocabulary and counting to build on. The colorful, collage-art style illustrations are pleasantly reminiscent of Carle, and burst with visual excitement against the simple backgrounds. And not to worry – the terrified chickens and their eggs make it out unharmed. The length was great, and JJ was delighted by the action and suspense of the story. This will definitely be a fresh favorite for young bookworms, and we 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.)

Tough Cookie: A Christmas Story (Edward Hemingway)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Tough Cookie: A Christmas Story by Edward Hemingway, a delightfully silly Christmas tale of figuring out where you belong.

Fox is enjoying his visit to The Land Of Holiday Treats when a scrumptious-looking fellow bursts out of a nearby bakery. “Run, Run, as fast as you can!” the little sugar cookie-man teases in a familiar refrain, and the Fox – never one to turn down a challenge – obliges him. To Sugar Cookie Man’s surprise, the fox catches him quickly, and to both their surprises, he tastes TERRIBLE. Dismayed at this news, Fox quickly changes gears, offering to help cheer Cookie Man up. They attempt to sweeten him up at the spa, and quicken him up for a marathon, but neither work. Confused about his purpose (what is a cookie if it’s not delicious?), Cookie Man and Fox try to regroup – and that’s when they run into a whole new crew that may have the answers they seek!

Fun and festive. The twist at the end is a clever one, and reinforces a nice message: we’re all made the way we are for a reason, and good friends will be there to help us find it (if, apparently, they don’t eat us first). The sugary-sweet illustrations are filled with colors and fun details, but uses negative space wisely so that they never overwhelm the page. The length is great, and JJ loved it. An adorably cute story that’s a wonderfully fun read for the holiday season, 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.)

Hello, Door (Alastair Heim)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Hello, Door, written by Alastair Heim and illustrated by Alisa Coburn, a cheeky spin on a classic tale.

In a twist on the Goldilocks fairytale, a sneaky fox in classic prowler’s attire creeps into the home of the Bear family while they are out. Rhyming text greets the things he sees (“Hello, door”, “Hello, sink”, “Hello, snack”, etc.) as he avails himself to the home’s food, fancy furnishings, and family treasures. But as he is admiring himself decked out in his soon-to-be-stolen gains, the Bear family returns home to teach him a lesson in respecting others’ property.

Man, I really wanted to like this one. The art is phenomenal, having a wonderful cartoon style in a simple yet exciting color palette and wonderfully designed characters and environments. The text is simple and fun to read aloud, and enjoyable for little ones like JJ who are learning to identify household objects. And even though the fox was being very naughty, there was a sense that his comeuppance would come, and it did… sort of. Mama Bear picks up the thieving Fox and hurls him far into the air, a satisfying punishment for his crime – until he lands in the yard of an even bigger and fancier home, smirking at the reader while the text indicates that the treasures inside are his next targets. It’s honestly a little unsettling, especially because the fox wasn’t merely being mischievous but committing a FELONY. It would have been far more satisfying to see him properly disciplined for his crimes. Otherwise, the length was fine, and JJ did enjoy the art and text. With a different ending, this one would have been a gem, but as is? Not for us.

Top 5: Foxes

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Hello, friends! It’s the start of a new month, so we’re celebrating with a new Top 5! This month, we thought we’d take a look at books featuring one of our favorite animals: Foxes! Who doesn’t love a clever, cuddly fox? Without further ado, here’s The Baby Bookworm’s Top 5 Books About Foxes:

1. The Fox In The Dark (Alison Green, illus. Deborah Allwright)

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Rabbit runs home at a hurried pace; there is a vicious fox out in the dark tonight. As soon as he secures himself in his burrow for the night, he hears a knock on the door. A duck has gotten stranded in the woods, and asks to take shelter with the rabbit. Soon after, an exhausted mouse and a timid lamb also beg sanctuary, making Rabbit’s only bed quite crowded for the evening. And just as they are settling in, there is another knock at the door: the fox! But he isn’t quite what he appears to be…

“This is one of our favorite bedtime books, and we enjoy it every time. The message, that things and people are rarely as simple as they appear, is a classic but with an important twist: don’t fear what you don’t understand. By revealing that the fox isn’t hunting for a meal but for her lost cub, it encourages little readers to consider things from all perspectives before snapping to judgement.”

2. Faraway Fox (Jolene Thompson, illus. Justin K. Thompson)

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A fox wanders what used to be the fields and forests of his home, now a confusing landscape of concrete, cars, and people. He has been separated from his family by an interstate, and he spends his days exploring the unfamiliar area. One day, he finds some humans building a tunnel under the freeway, and when he explores it, he finds that it leads to a wildlife preserve… and his family!

“This is a bold attempt to explain a common modern problem to children: urban sprawl and the effect it has on wildlife. In this, it succeeds, with gorgeous illustrations and a satisfying ending.”

3. Pandora (Victoria Turnbull)

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Pandora lives all alone in a land of broken things. She uses her cleverness and ingenuity to build a cozy home and fix lost treasures, but she is still lonely. One day, a small bluebird injures itself nearby, and Pandora takes the little bird in. The two grow close, and when the bird is healthy enough to fly away, it always returns with treasures from far-off lands, fixing them into a nest as a gift for Pandora. One day, the bird doesn’t return, and Pandora is broken-hearted. But when she wakes one sunny morning, she finds that once the seeds of friendship are planted and nourished, they will grow – and that it may take a while, but true friends always find their way back home.

“This is a stunning story that uses lovely, soothing art and simple text to cover some surprisingly advanced ideas. It’s a beautiful fable for young ones, but older readers will recognize subtle themes like depression, hope, and healing within the story’s message of friendship and kindness being returned to those who give it. It’s surprisingly powerful, especially with art that conveys these emotions as much as it does the story being told.”

4. Little Fox In The Forest (Stephanie Graegin)

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This wordless picture book begins with a teacher telling a class of students, including the protagonist, that the next day will be show-and-tell; they should bring something precious and old. The little girl protagonist knows just what to bring: her beloved toy fox, which she has had since she was a baby as a constant companion. After class, she brings the little fox to the playground with her friends, but as she is enjoying the swings, a real-life fox snatches it from her backpack! The little girl and her best friend race after the fox, going on an adventure through the woods that parallels the adventure of the toy fox and its new owner. Will the little fox find its way back home – or will home become something new and unexpected?

“JJ isn’t usually interested in wordless picture books, but we really enjoyed this one! The story is so charming and exciting, the characters are so expressive, and the illustrations so detailed and lively that it was easy to enjoy the story with our own narration. The ending was especially wonderful, with both the little girl and the real fox showing each other a touching generosity and kindness that stands as a great lesson for little ones.”

5. The Antlered Ship (Dashka Slater, illus. The Fan Brothers)

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Marco the fox is filled with big questions. His fellow foxes have little interest in his questions, content to their workaday lives. So when Marco sees the antlered ship dock in the harbor, and the captain offers work as a crewman, Marco accepts. But once the new crew disembarks, they find that sailing a ship is difficult work. Finding what they are each talented at, the crew eventually bands together and becomes a great team, each discovering what they initially sought – except for Marco. He still has more questions… but perhaps he has found the answer to one of them without even realizing.

“Just lovely. This is one part a story of finding friendship, one part a story of finding oneself, one part adventure tale, and one part meditation on the unknown, all wrapped up in a bundle of gorgeously detailed and stunningly imaginative art. The text is clever, sometimes wry and often profound, weaving a story that sweeps the reader along through the highs and lows of the animals’ voyage. The art is beautiful, evoking a quiet sense of wonder and wanderlust with each page.”

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!