Little Whale (Jo Weaver)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Little Whale by Jo Weaver, a sweet tale of family, perseverance, and a mother’s love.

The seasons have changed, and a mother gray whale and her new calf must travel north to their pod’s feeding grounds. The little whale is making the journey for the first time, and is trepidatious – how long will the journey take? How far must they swim? Yet the calf’s mother assures her child that she will lead the way. Along the trip, the pair see majestic and wonderful sights, and face dangers and exhaustion as they swim ever onward. Yet no matter what they encounter, Mother Whale encourages her baby gently and lovingly, promising that she will never leave Little Whale’s side. At last, after a long and harrowing journey, the two hear the songs of their family calling them home to the feeding grounds of their ancestors.

Peaceful. Weaver’s nature tales of mother-and-child (Little One, Little Tigers) are among our favorites for their soothing tone and stunning artwork, and this one does not disappoint. Weaver’s charcoal illustrations capture the dreamy, endlessly deep blue of the ocean and the world within it, from dark kelp forests teeming with life to a boundless starry sky. The text is calm and peaceful, even in its moments of drama; the reader feels just as comforted by Mother Whale’s words of reassurance as her calf. The length is perfect for any storytime, and JJ was fascinated by the beautiful illustrations. A tranquil tale of motherly love, 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.)

Saturday (Oge Mora)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Saturday by Oge Mora, a heartwarming story of mother and daughter.

Saturdays are Ava’s favorite day; her mother works every other day of the week, so Saturdays are just for the two of them. They even have their weekly ritual all planned out: first, go to the library for storytime; then relax at the beauty shop as they get their hair done; then off to the park for a picnic. And today’s Saturday is even more special, because they’re capping it off with a special, one-night-only puppet show across town. However, when they get to the library, the find that storytime has been cancelled… and that’s only the beginning of their bad luck. Disappointment after disappointment mounts, culminating in a heartbreaking realization that they’ve left their puppet show tickets at home! This proves to be Ava’s mother’s breaking point, and she apologizes to her daughter for a day wasted. But little Ava knows the truth, and is there to remind her mother: a day is never wasted when it’s spent with the one you love.

Absolutely wonderful. Mora has a real talent for telling simple, uplifting stories that are grounded in reality. Watching Ava and her mom suffer their series of letdowns is painful, and the mother’s eventual feelings of guilt for “ruining” the day hit so close to home as a parent, especially because EVERY mother I know has had that kind of day at some point. And it’s Ava’s gentle, kind reassurance that both warms the heart and teaches several important lessons to young readers: sometimes things can’t go our way, sometimes parents even (gasp!) mess up, but it’s how we handle these bumps – and who we handle them with – that makes us who were are. It’s quietly powerful, deeply touching, and wonderfully inspiring. The mixed-media paper collage art is rich and beautiful, filling Ava’s city with life and color, and managing to imbue deep emotion and personality in spare figures. The length is perfect, and JJ and I both loved it. Absolutely Baby Bookworm approved!

Little Tigers (Jo Weaver)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Little Tigers by Jo Weaver, third in her touching series about mothers and their little ones.

One night, Mother Tiger hears the sounds of men and dogs near their den, and decides that it’s time to move further into the jungle. The next morning, she and her two cubs, Sera and Puli, set off on a search for a new home. Sera suggests a private, protected nook she knows, a cave behind a waterfall. Mother Tiger explains that it is too wet; to Puli’s suggestion of the branches of a tall tree, she similarly explains the problems with sleeping up too high. Two more locations are explored, neither the right fit for the Tiger family. Growing concerned that they will have nowhere to spend the night, Mother Tiger spots a promising locale: a ruined temple that’s been reclaimed by nature. After investigating, Mother Tiger declares it safe, and she and cubs cuddle together for a good night’s rest.

One of Weaver’s previous books, Little One, is one of my absolute favorite picture books on motherhood, and this one has many of the same elements: themes of family, nature, exploration, and motherly love, wrapped in a package of some absolutely breathtaking illustrations. The story is simple and easy to follow for young bookworms, yet teases weightier subjects – such as human encroachment and the threat to Bengal tigers – that are worthy of consideration and discussion for older readers. The length is fine for bookworms of any age, JJ was enchanted by the lifelike artwork, and, as a mom, it inspired a particularly heartwarming reaction from me. A quiet, lovely tale, 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.)

My Mommy Medicine (Edwidge Danticat)

Hello, friends! Our book today is My Mommy Medicine, written by Edwidge Danticat and illustrated by Shannon Wright, a sweet tribute to the special healing powers that mommies possess.

When the unnamed protagonist – an adorable little girl with bright eyes and a high poof of natural hair – is feeling sick or sad, her Mommy always knows just the right medicine. Sometimes it’s a silly kiss as loud as Mardi Gras horns, or a cup of tea (or hot chocolate!) to soothe sore throats. Maybe it’s a song at bedtime, or a prayer at naptime, or a cuddle on the couch while watching movies. Maybe it’s playing a game of Uno, or a piggyback ride, or even just sitting quietly together and enjoying the stars on the ceiling. No matter what the remedy, Mommy always seems to know just what the little girl needs to feel better.

Warm and sweet. A celebration of that special touch that moms always seem to have with their babies, the text and illustrations focus on the specifics of this one pair, detailing all the little things that are their rituals of care and quality time. It’s a nice focus, as it gives the story a sense of personality and realism, yet remains relatable enough for everyone to connect with on some level, or in some activity. There’s not much in the way of rising or falling action, but, in a way, that adds to the soft, comforting tone. The character design is precious, especially in the similar hairstyles and subtle nods that the Mommy is, in fact, a real doctor. The length is fine, and JJ enjoyed it a lot. This is a lovely, gentle tribute to the magic of mommies, 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.)

Dreamers (Yuyi Morales)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dreamers by Yuyi Morales, a breathtakingly beautiful love letter to a Dreamer.

“I dreamed of you, then you appeared. Together we became Amor – Love – Amor.” So begins a love letter from a mother to her baby, and the story of their journey together. Bundling their only belongings on her back, the mother takes her infant across a bridge to a new land. Leaving all she knows behind and unable to go back, she places her faith in the promise their new home holds, of education and opportunity. The language spoken is unlike her own, but she tries, until the day when she stumbles upon another place of education and promise: a public library. She marvels that the library opens their arms, sharing books and language and trust and safety. As her son grows, she and he both use the books and resources to learn, to adapt, and to stretch their dreams ever higher. “We are stories. We are two languages. […] We are dreamers, soñadores of the world.”

Stunning. A deeply personal tale told in an ecstatically beautiful way, Morales channels her immigration experience into a factual story with a fantastical look. Every word of the quietly powerful text has intent, each element of the mixed media art a nod to the author’s past, present, and future (Morales details the story and items that inspired the book and its visuals in the backmatter). It’s not just one love letter, but many – from mother to son, from patron to library, from reader to book, from immigrant to both home countries – all folded into a story that inspires, relates, and deeply moves. The length was great, JJ and I adored it, and I can’t recommend it enough. Baby Bookworm approved.