Because (Mo Willems)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Because, written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Amber Ren, a lovely ode to the community of people that are behind a single work of art.

It begins with Beethoven: “Because a man named Ludwig wrote beautiful music, a man named Franz was inspired to create his own.” Each page follows in this way, looking at how Franz’s music inspired an orchestra to form to perform his music; musicians to practice, craftsmen to prepare the music hall, artists to design the posters, and patrons to buy tickets. And because one little girl’s uncle came down with a cold, she got her aunt’s spare ticket, and was there to hear Franz’s music – and was transformed, inspired to create her own art and share it with the next young artist.

Beautiful. At once a celebration of the importance of art and the army of people that band together to create it, Willems’s cause-and-effect story structure puts a spotlight on both splendidly while creating a compelling and exciting narrative. I especially loved the focus on how art is most often a community effort, with people working together both onstage and off to make something beautiful for their audience; I’ve only seen it once before in a picture book, and it made me smile to see it here. After all, art is best when it’s shared, and able to inspire the next great artist to take up the torch. Ren’s illustrations are lovely, creating a rich and diverse cast of characters and some wonderfully heartwarming visuals (such as when a flowing stanza of musical notes literally sweeps the young protagonist off her feet and carries her along). The length is great, and JJ and I adored it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Top 5: New Baby

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Hello, friends! It’s a new month, so we’ve got a new Top 5 list for you! As it so happens, several friends of The Baby Bookworm have welcomed new additions over the last month, so we thought we’d celebrate these growing families with a list of our Top 5 New Baby Books! Whether helping older siblings with the transition, bringing a little levity to the stressful lives of new parents, or simply welcoming the new arrivals themselves to the world, these books are perfect for the newest bookworms on the block.

So without further ado, here’s our Top 5 New Baby Books:

1. Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth (Oliver Jeffers)

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Hello, new person! Here we are; this is Earth, a big globe spinning in a massively bigger universe, and carrying all of human and plant and animal life as we know it. Created as a gift for his first child, Jeffers brings care, humor, and deep affection in both the text and art, assuring Earth’s newest arrivals that there is a whole universe to explore as they grow, and that they are never alone in it.

“The art is positively lovely: gorgeous, sweeping land-, sea-, and starscapes blended with Jeffers signature quirky details and characters. A spread featuring dozens of animals makes for delightful identification practice; another featuring a tongue-in-cheek look at the solar system informs and amuses. The text is clever, sweet, and full of wonder at the world around. […] The rare story that little ones can enjoy more and more as they grow, and that encourages us to be curious and kind.”

2. King Baby (Kate Beaton)

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When King Baby is born, it is clear that he is the ruler of all he surveys. People crowd around to greet and fawn over him. He is given mountains of gifts as tribute. His loyal servants (otherwise known as Mommy and Daddy) fulfill his every need and whim, even if they are occasionally simple fools who do not understand his instructions. This hysterical look at the first year of #babylife will make new parents laugh along with their little ones.

“While King Baby and his imperious dialogue were entertaining for JJ, the text and concept of the book are filled with tongue-in-cheek humor for parents. Beaton’s signature comic style makes it feel like this is as much a book for grown-ups as it is for baby bookworms […]. Add to that the charming and colorful illustrations and a perfect length for little ones, and you’ve got a book that is sure to please readers of all ages.”

3. I’ve Loved You Since Forever (Hoda Kotb, illus. Suzie Mason)\

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When does a mother or father begin to love their baby? From the day they meet them? No no, the love between a mother or father and their baby began long before that. It began before the flight of birds, and before bees made honey. It came before rivers and sunsets and even the silvery glow of the moon. Before all of that, there were two bright points of light traveling through the stars, destined to meet – and that’s when a parent’s love begins, and waits for the day that ”you and me” becomes a ”we”.

“Sentimentally sweet, elegant yet earnest. […] Inspired by the adoption of her daughter, Kotb is careful to keep the story gender-neutral (with the exception of one illustration) and open a diverse cross-section of families: the narrator could represent a mother or a father, and could be a biological, adopted, step-parent, or other types of caregiver, allowing for many types of families to feel a personal connection to the story. Both the text and the art have a soothing, dreamy quality that makes for a perfect bedtime read, including a gorgeous reoccurring cosmic motif that serves as a beautiful visual metaphor for the story’s theme.”

4. Mama’s Belly (Kate Hosford, illus. Abigail Halpin)

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The unnamed young protagonist knows her baby sister is on the way – she can see the swell of her Mama’s belly like a rising sea. And she has a number of questions about the new arrival: Will her sister know her, when she arrives? Will she have freckles like her? Will the girl have to share her beloved blanket with the baby? And lastly, will her parents have enough love for her and the baby to share?

“Gentle, warm, and simply lovely. There’s a sincere and almost meditative quality in which the narrative of the family’s day unfolds, inviting the reader into the mind of the curious, and perhaps a bit anxious, big-sister-to-be. Then, as her parents comfort her with reassuring and encouraging words, the soothing text and vivid, inviting illustrations wrap around the reader like a cozy blanket. The art is just beautiful, bringing the audience into a comfy house bursting with color in rich, warm tones.”

5. Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide For New Arrivals (Mo Willems)

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Welcome! You have officially been born, and are now experiencing life. It’s a big, complicated thing to do, so we hope that this introductory guide will help you navigate some of the major points. Occasionally, there may be disappointments, like injustice or spilled ice cream. But there are people working to make this world better for you all the time, and we can share our ice cream. Overall, there will be much to experience; the good, the bad, and the very silly. We’re so glad that you are you, and that you are here, and that we are reading this book together.

“Using a instruction manual-style layout and his signature tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, Willems has created a story that captures both the lightness and gravity of welcoming an infant into the family and the world. Sections of silly comedy combine moments of earnest honesty and hope to give the book a weight beyond its whimsy, and simple yet bold block illustrations are perfect for the tiniest bookworm’s developing eyesight. […] A wonderful book for those welcoming a new addition to the world[…]”

 

That’s our list! We’d also like to note two favorites not on this list: Little Big Girl by Claire Keane and Love Is by Diane Adams! Both are gorgeous and touching stories, and the only reason we didn’t include them here is because we’ve featured them in previous lists. 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!

Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide For New Arrivals (Mo Willems)


Hello, friends! Our book today is Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide For New Arrivals by Mo Willems, a hilarious and heartwarming book for brand new baby bookworms and the ones that love them.

Welcome! You have officially been born, and are now experiencing life. It’s a big, complicated thing to do, so we hope that this introductory guide will help you navigate some of the major points, such as what you can expect (friends, music, cats, etc) and what is expected of you (sleeping, eating, pooping, more pooping, etc). Occasionally, there may be disappointments, like injustice or spilled ice cream. But there are people working to make this world better for you all the time, and we can share our ice cream. Overall, there will be much to experience; the good, the bad, and the very silly. So, welcome! We’re so glad that you are you, and that you are here, and that we are reading this book together.

This one was adorable and sweet! Using a instruction manual-style layout and his signature tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, Willems has created a story that captures both the lightness and gravity of welcoming an infant into the family and the world. Sections of silly comedy combine moments of earnest honesty and hope to give the book a weight beyond its whimsy, and simple yet bold block illustrations are perfect for the tiniest bookworm’s developing eyesight. The length is perfect, and JJ enjoyed this one a lot. A wonderful book for those welcoming a new addition to the world, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale (Mo Willems)


Hello friends, and Happy Father’s Day! We’re back after a week off, and excited to share our review of a family favorite, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems, a hilarious autobiographical story of a girl, her dad, and her unusually-named best friend.

One day, Trixie and her daddy go for a walk to the laundromat, bringing along Trixie’s constant companion: a stuffed rabbit named Knuffle Bunny. Toddler Trixie is excited for the fun to be had, happily “helping” her father with the chore. The pair finish loading the washer and begin the walk home when Trixie realizes something. She attempts to tell her daddy the problem, but her babbling baby talk does not convey her distress. Her daddy thinks that Trixie is simply being fussy, and attempts to continue on their way. Well, this leaves Trixie no choice – she throws a walloping tantrum to communicate her complaint. By the time the pair return home, they are both frustrated, until Trixie’s Mommy opens the door and asks the magic question: “Where’s Knuffle Bunny?”

This is a favorite in our household, and no matter how many times we read it, it always gets a laugh. From the simple yet wonderfully expressive illustrations, to the sweet moments of father and daughter bonding, to the intensely relatable slice-of-life story that will make anyone with a toddler sympathize with both Trixie and her daddy, it’s a perfectly-paced tale that will please readers of any age. The distinctive style of art that incorporates illustrations over black and white photos of real-world environments gives the story a feeling of authenticity, and the length is perfect. JJ and I both love this one, and we highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a sweet story about the challenges and joys of being a perfectly imperfect father. Baby Bookworm approved!

Nanette’s Baguette (Mo Willems)


Hello, everyone! Our book today is Nanette’s Baguette, the latest book by the incomparable Mo Willems, an adorable exercise in rhyme with a lot of humor and heart.

Nanette loves baguettes. Today, Nanette’s mother will finally let Nanette get the baguette from the baker, Juliette. Is Nanette set? You bet! But what happens when Nanette’s love for baguettes gets the best of her? Will she regret her actions? Will her mother fret? What can Nanette do?

Once again, Willems creates an adorable set of characters, and a fun yet meaningful story. The wordplay is so entertaining, and creative enough that it remains fresh throughout the book, which is especially great because this book is MEANT to be read aloud. The paper-art illustrations are charming and full of personality, and the plot goes beyond the humor to include a few genuinely touching moments. The length is fine for baby bookworms, and JJ absolutely adored it. Another Mo Willems gem for readers of all ages. Baby Bookworm approved!