Oscar The Octopus: A Book About the Months of the Year (Matthew Van Fleet)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Oscar The Octopus: A Book About the Months of the Year by Matthew Van Fleet, an aquatic, interactive adventure for little bookworms.

Readers follow the mostly unseen – save for his tentacles – Oscar as he spends the year catching a menagerie of sea creatures (it’s never directly explained what he DOES with the creatures he captures, and eventually they are all released). With each page dedicated to a month of the year, a touch-and-feel element – along with the text – gives the reader a clue as to what creature Oscar has caught this time; a lift-the-flap and label reveals the various sea animals, such as lionfish, sea otters, sharks, cuttlefish and more. At last, when his year of fishing is done, Oscar feels a tickle in his nose. Letting loose a mighty sneeze, he releases his smiling collection of new friends back out into the sea.

Tons of fun. While the light story is a little confusing, and the subtitle a tad misleading (the subject matter has as much to do with sea animals, colors, and the touch-and-feel sensory elements as the months of the year), the final product is so much fun for little readers that it’s easily forgivable. JJ had an absolute blast feeling sticky cuttlefish tentacles and discovering furry penguin chicks, and begged to be read the story a second time the moment we finished – always a telling sign of how engaging a book is. Van Fleet’s illustrations strike a good balance between natural authenticity and cartoon appeal for each of the creatures, and the story is a brisk yet immensely entertaining read. A lovely addition to any curious young bookworm’s library, 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.)

Scratchie: A Touch-And-Feel Cat Adventure (Maria Putri)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Scratchie: A Touch-And-Feel Cat Adventure by Maria Putri, a delightful toddler book centered around a frisky feline.

Scratchie the cat loves to scratch things – “it keeps my claws super sharp”. The mischievous kitty invites the reader along to scratch things together, touring through an abundance of different textures. And after a busy morning of scratching together (and leaving an enormous mess), Scratchie has the perfect idea for winding down: a snooze and a pet of some nice, soft cat fur.

Cat-loving bookworms will go nuts for this one – JJ was practically jumping out of her skin at the opportunity to follow along and pretend to “scratch” the different textures with Scratchie, and the self-possessed, very feline quality of the dialogue made me chuckle. The textures themselves are very nicely varied, though they don’t always quite line up with what’s being described; a “scratchy” paper towel is a soft terry cloth, and a “wooden” table is the distinct feel of vinyl plastic. Still, the wonderfully soft fur of Scratchie at the end served a dual purpose of tying up the story nicely and giving us a go-to page to practice gently petting a cat, which would be a huge help for any house that hosts both toddlers and kitties. The length was perfect, and we liked this one. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Don’t Wake Up The Tiger (Britta Teckentrup)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Don’t Wake Up The Tiger by Britta Teckentrup, a delightful interactive story of a sleepy tiger and some sneaky animals.

Frog, Fox, Tortoise, Mouse, and Stork have somewhere to be with their giant bunch of balloons, but there is a big, stripey problem: Tiger has fallen asleep right in their path! They have to get around her without waking her up, but how? Frog comes up with a clever plan: they can use the balloons to, one by one, float up over the sleeping Tiger. But there are a few mishaps, and each time there is, they need the reader’s help to get them across while keeping the big cat dozing as well. But Tiger has to wake up eventually and when she does, there’s a big surprise in store…

So much fun! When interactive storybooks are done well, they are such a wonderful experience to share with baby bookworms, and we had a blast with this one. The adorable illustrations are colorful and cleverly oversized, giving a sense of scale and depth that help the animals and interactions to feel real. The interactive elements are fantastic, simple enough for the very young to understand yet fun and silly enough that it will keep them entertained. And the charming twist at the end gave us a big smile. The length was perfect for a quick read, and JJ went absolutely wild for it. This is an engaging, entertaining interactive story for big and little readers to share, and we definitely recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Don’t Blink! (Tom Booth)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Don’t Blink! by Tom Booth, a charming little tale of an epic staring contest.

A little girl sits cross-legged, staring at the reader, when a bird happens by and inquires as to what she’s doing. The girl explains that she is having a staring contest with “this kid”, pointing to the fourth wall, and the bird asks to join in. The girl welcomes the new player, and instructs the bird: “Just don’t blink!”. A fox shows up next, then an alligator, both asking to join the contest as well. Soon a whole menagerie has appeared, all holding on and trying not to blink. But all at once, they do. After a brief discussion of who the winner was, the animals depart – except for a tortoise who has been slowly making his way across the page all this time. He asks to join in the next round, and the girl and tortoise begin a rematch against the reader.

This was really cute. It’s a simple, straightforward tale that combines an adorable collection of animals, a great interactive premise, and fun dialogue-driven text with multiple voices that make it a delight to read aloud. The illustrations are darling, with the girl and each creature bright-eyed and full of character. JJ adored identifying all the animals, and loved the repetition of the “Don’t Blink” gag. The length is great for a quick read, and we really enjoyed it. Baby Bookworm approved!

A Thousand Billion Things (And Some Sheep) (Loïc Clément & Anne Montel)

Hello, friends! Our book today is A Thousand Billion Things (And Some Sheep) by Loïc Clément & Anne Montel, a cleverly fun seek-and-find story for bookworms that enjoy a challenge.

Our story opens on a little girl who is none too fond of going to bed. You see, throughout her day there are thousands of choices to make, and it keeps things interesting. A mountain of buttered toast for breakfast, or cereal drowned in an avalanche of milk? Getting dressed in shirt, pants, dress, socks or tights, stripes or spots, blue or yellow? And don’t get her started on all the decisions involved in picking out a treat from the sweet shop. But when you lie down to bed, there’s nothing much to do but sit in the dark… and count dozens of sheep.

Who doesn’t love a good seek-and-find? And this one is indeed entertaining, combining a funny, tongue-in-cheek storyline with some amazingly detailed and whimsical illustrations, eventually coming together to create a clever and humorous twist. The art is definitely the star here, and the intricate illustrations create a stimulating (but not TOO difficult) visual puzzle while hiding some really fun Easter eggs. The length really depends on how much time you care to spend on the puzzles – for little bookworms like JJ, finding the specific items is a bit challenging, though she loved picking out familiar objects from many of the spreads – but the story on it’s own can be read to even the youngest bookworm in a sitting. And yes, there’s a answer key in the back of the book, just in case. Overall, a fun experience, especially for readers big and small to share. Baby Bookworm approved!

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