Why a Daughter Needs a Mom (Gregory E. Lang)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Why a Daughter Needs a Mom, written by Gregory E. Lang and illustrated by Sydney Hanson, an ode to the special relationship between mothers and daughters.

Adapted from Lang’s adult-oriented gift book of the same name, this version combines Hanson’s adorable animal illustrations with sugary-sweet rhyming text that explores all the things moms give their daughters. From a shoulder to cry on to a warm hug, a sense of humor to a sense of style, these word of encouragement and advice show that moms love nothing more than to help their daughters be the best and happiest versions on themselves.

Cute yet bland. Contrary to the title, the text is less examples of why a daughter needs a mom and more a list of life advice for young ones. Yet while the lessons themselves are well-written and occasionally quite touching, nothing other than pronoun choices make them specific to the relationship between mothers and daughters; indeed, values like perseverance, empathy, and patience should be taught by any-gender parents to any-gender children. For this reason, the book feels less like it’s aimed at young bookworms and more like it was written for moms (still, there’s also something slightly off about a book being narrated from the first-person perspective of a mother to her child being written by a man). Hanson’s heartwarming illustrations are the standout, and her adorable parent-child creatures were definitely the main draw for us. Otherwise, the length was fine, and JJ liked the art a lot. Overall, a little disappointing but not bad, and we can still call it Baby Bookworm approved.

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.)

How To Make A Mom (Claressa Swensen)

Hello, friends! Our book today is How To Make A Mom, written by Claressa Swensen and illustrated by Alena Paklina, a sugary sweet tribute to what makes moms so special.

Written in the form of a recipe, the text takes the reader step-by-step through the making of a very special mom, using ingredients like sugar, chocolate chips, and vanilla to represent mom’s sweetness, fun, and patience. And if you already have an extra-special mom, don’t worry: the actual recipe also makes a yummy batch of chocolate chip cookies.

Deliciously cute. While some of the ingredient-personality parallels are a bit of a stretch – such as flour representing good organizational skills or butter for “buttery slick driving skills” – as well as the fact that some of the personality traits seem a trifle condescending (cleaning, baking, and being a “personal nurse” are included, but not things like intelligence, creativity, or courage), the earnest intention in this one carries it through to an affectionate ending. This is bolstered by the book’s warm and cozy art style, featuring illustrations of a little boy making the cookies as he watches his mom do all the things he’s showing appreciation for (though mom does assist with steps involving the oven, a wise choice and a safe example to set for young readers). The length of this one is great for a short storytime, and there’s a gentle earnestness that helps one look past its minor flaws. And we always love a book with a bonus recipe! JJ enjoyed this one, and so did I. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author 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.)

Heather Has Two Mommies (Lesléa Newman)

Hello friends, and a happy start to Pride Month! To celebrate, our book today is the classic Heather Has Two Mommies, written by Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Laura Cornell in the new edition (Diana Souza illustrated the original).

Heather’s very favorite number is two. Why? Well, there are two of all her very favorite things – she has two arms and two legs, two eyes and two ears, two pets (a dog and cat), and best of all, her two mommies. She has her Mama Jane and her Mama Kate, and she loves both of them the most, more than anyone else. On Heather’s very first day of school, it comes up in conversation that she doesn’t have a daddy, and for the first time, she feels insecure – is she the only one in class with no daddy? But when the teacher suggests that the children all draw their families, Heather and the reader quickly see that each family is made up differently, with blended families, single-parent families, other LGBTQ families and more. Her teacher reminds the children that what makes a family isn’t a set of rules about who is in it; what makes a family is simply the love they share.

This groundbreaking work, cited as the first lesbian-themed picture ever widely published, has been around since 1989, and there’s a reason the story has such staying power. The themes are simple and easy to grasp for young readers, but encourage the universal truth that families of every shape and size are made family by love – no other prerequisites required. The text is cheerful and positive, and Cornell’s colorful, lively illustrations capture the frenetic energy of childhood. The length is fine for bookworms of any age, and JJ loved the art, especially the detailed environments. A classic must-read, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!