Before We Sleep (Giorgio Volpe & Paolo Proietti)

Hello, friends! Our book today Before We Sleep by Giorgio Volpe and Paolo Proietti, a soft and sweet tale of fall friendship.

Little Red the fox is excited for the change of seasons that brings fall – it means autumn colors to hide in and crunchy leaves to play with. The only thing that makes the fall even more fun is the time spent with Red’s best friend, Hazel the dormouse. The pair spend a marvelous fall frolicking and playing hide-and-seek. Yet as the air grows colder, Little Red begins to fret; soon winter will be here, and Hazel will go into hibernation, leaving Red all along until spring. Trying to think of ways to keep Hazel from hibernating, Red resorts to asking if Hazel will try to stay awake this year, but the dormouse gently replies that when spring has come again, they will be back together. Until then, they can enjoy the time they have by appreciating their best friend.

Very sweet. This Italian import explores themes of friendship, even through separation, in a gentle, tender, yet surprisingly honest fashion. And while the ending feels a little abrupt, it does leave the reader with the implication that even while Hazel hibernates, Red will be okay, if a little lonely, until spring. The text, with translation by Angus Yuen-Killick is filled with language that paints a beautiful autumnal story, and cleverly and subtly chooses not to gender either of the main characters. The soft, smoky lines of the pencil art is cozy yet moody, and captures the tone perfectly. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed it, even if she also felt the ending was a little unexpected. This is a different kind of tale, but one no less meaningful for it, and we liked 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 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)

f2a6e54f-110e-4f21-b5fe-abc1f8f0999d

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.