Everything Is Mama (Jimmy Fallon)

Hello friends, and Happy Mother’s Day! In honor of the occasion, we have a special review today: Everything Is Mama, written by Jimmy Fallon and illustrated by Miguel Ordóñez, the follow-up to the massively popular Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada.

This time around, there’s a new wrinkle in teaching the book’s collection of baby animals to say their parents’ names. Namely, the baby animals don’t seem to have any issue saying “Mama”, it’s that they seem to think that everything – from the sun to a pair of shoes to a flower to a balloon and much more – is called “Mama.” Their patient mommies try their best to teach them the proper words, but to no avail – everything is “Mama”. It’s okay, though – one day the little babies will grow up to understand that not everything is Mama… but that “Mama is everything.”

I had to be one of the few people on the planet who wasn’t a fan of this book’s predecessor, but I went into this one having heard that a lot of my issues with Dada weren’t present here, and that proved to be absolutely true. Once again, the art is simple, clean, and full of basic shapes and familiar creatures, wonderful for little ones learning about animals and objects. And the gag here is really cute, and very relatable and funny for any parent who has tried to convince their little one that not every dog has the same name as their own, and not every dark-haired woman is Mama. The sentiment on the final page gives the story a nice, warm conclusion, the length is good, and JJ enjoyed it. This is a simple and sweet story with a touch of fun and a dash of learning opportunity – it’s a little bit of everything, and we liked it a lot. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

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Mama’s Belly (Kate Hosford)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Mama’s Belly, written by Kate Hosford and illustrated by Abigail Halpin, a vibrantly-colored, yet quiet and touching, look at a little girl as her family prepares for a new baby.

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? Her patient parents answer each question, and the little girl helps to care for her Mama and prepare for the baby. Finally, the girl cuddles against her mother, stretching arms wide around her belly, so that she can hug her mother and the new baby all at once.

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. The multi-ethnic family is a nice choice, the length is great, and JJ loved it. A wonderful way to help prepare little readers for new siblings, 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.)

I’ve Loved You Since Forever (Hoda Kotb)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I’ve Loved You Since Forever, written by Hoda Kotb and illustrated by Suzie Mason, a heartfelt love letter from parent to child.

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. There’s a sea of parent-and-child books out there, but there are a few choices that were made here that really makes this one stand out. 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. It’s a relatively short book, which makes it fine for even the smallest bookworm, and JJ especially loved the hugably adorable animals. A wonderful update on a classic message, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

I Love You For Miles And Miles (Alison Goldberg)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Love You For Miles And Miles, written by Alison Goldberg and illustrated by Mike Yamada, a unique vehicle-themed ode to the love between a mother and child.

A mother bear and her cub (no gender is specified for the latter) have a bond like no other. Her love for her baby is longer than the longest train, whose cars can stretch for miles and miles. It’s faster than the fastest fire truck, rushing to the rescue whenever she’s needed. It’s bigger than the biggest truck, and higher than the highest airplane, and steadier than the steadiest tugboat. And just like the vehicles, it’s always up to the task of helping, protecting, and caring for her little one.

This was pretty darn cute. Motherly love is certainly a theme that has no shortage of picture books, but I liked the twist of using big vehicles to describe a mother’s love – rather than a father’s – to a child of no specific gender. Big vehicle books are often geared towards boys only, and it’s nice that there’s some flexibility here that allows for girls and moms to learn about vehicles while celebrating parental bonds. The illustrations are fine, highlighting the vehicles and the bears’ relationship in visually energetic ways and mostly bright colors. The length is good too, and JJ liked it, so this one is Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Coat Of Many Colors (Dolly Parton)


Hello, friends! Today’s review is Coat Of Many Colors, written by Dolly Parton (based on the lyrics of her 1971 song of the same name) and illustrated by Brooke Boynton-Hughes.  

A little girl’s mother is given a box of small fabric scraps, and begins to make the girl a winter coat using the tiny pieces of fabric. The girl’s parents have many children and money is tight, but as the mother lovingly sews the garment, we see the closeness and joy the family shares despite their meager surroundings. While the coat is being sewn, the mother tells the girl the biblical story of Joseph and sings her songs, and the girl watches as her mother carefully makes each stitch to last. When the coat is finished, she is excited to wear it to school – but when she arrives, some of the children make fun of her patchwork clothing. The girl is hurt at first, but refuses to let the taunts of the children spoil the coat for her. She tells the other children that the coat is a symbol of her mother’s love and dedication to her children and, as such, she is proud of her coat of many colors.

We’ve read a lot of song-lyrics-as-picture-books in the last year, and I must say, this is probably the one that we enjoyed the most. Parton’s song translates perfectly to kidlit form: the lyrics truly tell a story, and it leaves a powerful message about family and the value of kindness and love over material wealth. It’s also a very touching testament to motherly love in both tangible and intangible form. The art in this version is charming, showing vibrant warmth and joy on every page. The length is great, and JJ and I both really enjoyed it. This one is a must for Dolly fans, but is also perfect for showing all little readers that money is not the mark of true wealth; sometimes, it’s a simple coat, made with a mother’s love. Baby Bookworm approved!