A Different Pond (Bao Phi)


Hello, friends! Today, we’re reviewing A Different Pond, written by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui, a quietly powerful story of family and fortitude.

A young boy wakes early with his father, both moving quietly so as not to wake the rest of the family. He helps his father load the car with their fishing supplies. They drive to the bait shop, where the owner remarks that they are up very early this morning. The boy’s father explains that he got a second job, and when he and the boy arrive at the lake, the boy wonders aloud: if his father has two jobs now, why must they still fish for food? The father explains that in America, everything is very expensive, and the boy helps him ready his line and light a fire for warmth. In the quiet solitude of the dark morning, the boy’s father tells him about the pond he would fish in when he was the boy’s age, with the brother he lost in the war. The boy and father catch enough fish, and return home to an apartment filled with the warmth and love of their family. The boy takes great pride in their bounty – he helped to provide dinner.

Wow. This was an incredible book. The story of father and son and their early-morning fishing trip is moving on many levels, but what makes it remarkable is its broad appeal across ages. The text on each page is chosen carefully, openly appealing and interesting to little ones yet conveying meaningful subtext to older readers in an economy of words. It’s beautiful and powerful, and leaves those of any age with much to think about. The art is perfect, capturing the mood and and emotions of the characters and environments in soft, soothing tones, making the reader feel as safe and at home as the little boy in the story. The length was fine for JJ, and we both loved it. This is a piece of art in picture book form, and a must-read for all ages. Baby Bookworm approved!

Harlem (Walter Dean Myers & Christopher Myers)


Hello, friends! Today’s review is another favorite from our library that we’ve been wanting to review for a while, and with everything in the news recently, it felt like a good time to shine a spotlight on this phenomenal book: Harlem, a poem written by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers.

Told in free verse, the evocative words of Myers’s poem tells the story of Harlem, the home of a great history and greater hope. It dashes between past, present and future, peeking into windows and through doors at the citizens of Harlem as they go to church, wash vegetables in their kitchens, ride the subways and play games in the streets. It celebrates Harlem’s one-of-a-kind history of jazz, literature, activism and culture, and writes a love letter to a community built out of a desire for freedom; freedom of expression, freedom from discrimination, and the freedom to achieve. 

Harlem can be a challenging read for some little bookworms, with much of the text being names and places written in a syncopated free verse style. However, the gorgeous mixed-media art, which captures as much an emotion as a people and place, is colorful and exciting enough for any little one. Then, once the reader is familiar with the words and rhythm of the text, there is a passion and life to the poem that is impossible to deny, and becomes more affecting with each repeat reading. This is a book that captures the soul of a vibrant, and vital, place in American history, and it’s simply wonderful. It’s a good length, a favorite of ours, and emphatically Baby Bookworm approved!

Golden Domes And Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book Of Colors (Hena Khan)


Hello, friends! Today’s book is Golden Domes And Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book Of Colors, written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, a gorgeous book that teaches children about the colors that fill Islam’s objects and traditions.

A young Muslim girl guides the reader through the bright, vibrant colors that she sees as she and her family practice their faith. Red is the color of the prayer rug she and her father kneel upon to pray, facing Mecca. Blue is the color of her mother’s hijab, the head covering she wears. Green is the color of her Quran, the holy book her grandmother reads to her, teaching her Allah’s lessons. Beautiful colors are present wherever her faith is reflected, and she loves her colorful Muslim world.

This was a very informative and interesting book! It acts as both a primer for basic colors, which were very easily identifiable for a baby bookworm like JJ, and introduces many elements and traditions surrounding Islam in a way that is approachable and easily identifiable for young readers of all levels of familiarity with the faith. Using the language of color, the purpose and appearance of mosques, kufis, and henna are all introduced, offering a unique window into the world of Islam for those unfamiliar, and giving young Muslim children an opportunity to identify with their culture and faith as they learn their colors. The art is, obviously, radiant and vivid, making each color the page’s theme and easy to spot for little ones. The length is just perfect, and JJ really enjoyed this. This is a fantastic way to introduce children to color through the world of Islam, or vice versa, and we liked it a lot. Baby Bookworm approved!

I, Too, Am America (Langston Hughes)


Hello, friends! As you know, February is Black History Month, so in honor of that, we will be reading a book every Friday that celebrates black heritage and culture, as well as black authors and artists. Today’s book is I, Too, Am America, a retelling of a poem by Langston Hughes with a story told through art by Bryan Collier.

Using the text of Hughes’s classic poem, Collier uses his art to tell a story of a Pullman railway porter, one of the first American jobs to offer black men decent pay and comparatively dignified work. Hughes’s words describe black Americans as a member of the American family, but one who is treated with scorn and shame. Yet despite this treatment, he will “eat well,/ And grow strong,” text that is juxtaposed with images of the porter releasing discarded magazines and newspapers from the back of the train, spreading knowledge to other black people as he travels. The art moves seamlessly from past to present, and in the face of a young black boy on a subway train with his mother, peering through the stripes of an American flag at what comes next, the future.

This was a superb book, featuring layers of meaning and interpretation through both Hughes’s words and Collier’s art. Visual and textual metaphors blend together perfectly, creating a story that both examines a very specific part of African-American history with the grand scope of growing up as a black person in America, and the indefatigable spirit doing so requires. The length is perfect for baby bookworms: there is limited yet impactful text, and JJ was so enamored of the art that she spent a solid twenty minutes staring at the pages after our initial read-through. It’s a fabulous book to share with little ones, and discuss afterwards, and we highly recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Top 5: Multicultural Children’s Books

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Hello, everyone! Welcome to our first Top 5 list of the new year! If you didn’t know, this past Friday, January 27th, was Multicultural Children’s Book Day, a day in which parents, educators, and children were encouraged to #ReadYourWorld, exploring kidlit that highlights different cultures and diversity in general. We wrote a post about it on our Facebook page (which can be read here), but I feel like this wonderful graphic by David Huyck sums it up well:

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Yup, more children’s books published in 2015 had animals or inanimate objects as protagonists than black, Asian, Latinx or First Nations protagonists.

Anyone who reads our reviews knows that The Baby Bookworm advocates for diversity in children’s literature. It raises better-educated, more tolerant young people, and helps children who belong to minorities of race, religion, gender, culture, disability, appearance and/or orientation feel represented and a valuable part of the world they live in, which every child has a right to. So, in the spirit of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, and reading diverse books to children year-round, here are The Baby Bookworm’s Top 5 Multicultural Children’s Books:

1. Rice & Rocks (Sandra L. Richards)

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One of my absolute favorite concepts for a book about cultural unity ever. Tying together Jamaican, Japanese, Puerto Rican and New Orlean cultures through their shared use of rice and beans (“rice & rocks”) in their cuisine, it shows children that even vastly different cultures can have similarities. The magical journey that Giovanni and his Auntie take with his magical bird Jasper is one that inspires the imagination while educating children that our differences are not always so great, that cuisine can be an important part of our cultures, and that great food will always bring people together.

2. Thunder Boy Jr. (Sherman Alexie)

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A wonderful book about a little boy and and his relationship with his father, with a deeply meaningful subtext about cultural identity and honoring tradition while still growing into an individual. Native American characters are represented authentically (Alexie is Spokane-Coeur d’Alene), never becoming a stereotype or caricature, and instead telling the story of a family and a culture with heart and delicate grace. Add in some stunningly gorgeous art, and this is a wonderful book about a woefully unrepresented culture that can be enjoyed again and again.

3. 14 Cows For America (Carmen Agra Deedy)

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Yes, we’ve featured this book in a list before, but it absolutely deserves to be included here (and it’s no secret that it’s one of our favorites). This is deeply affecting story of a young Maasai man who, while studying abroad in America, returns to his home and tells the story of the September 11th attacks to his people. What follows is a remarkable gesture of solidarity and friendship to a nation shattered by grief. Based on the true experience of Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah, this touching story is also notable for it’s exploration of the Maasai, their culture, and their values. Features the jaw-droppingly gorgeous art of Thomas Gonzales, this is a wonderful tale of cultural unity, and how no true kindness is ever too small.

4. The Wheels On The Tuk Tuk (Kabir Sehgal & Surishtha Sehgal)

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This was one of the most fun reviews we’ve ever done. Taking “The Wheels On The Bus” and re-writing it to reflect Indian culture, cuisine, and traditions, The Wheels On The Tuk Tuk takes the reader on a rollicking ride through an Indian street scene that features explosively colorful and adorable art, introducing (or re-introducing) the reader to yogis, sacred cows, poppadoms, chai, rupees, Diwali, and much more. It’s wonderfully easy to sing along to (JJ laughed maniacally as I bounced her on my knee and sang the text), and even includes a comprehensive glossary in the back of the book to explain each element it depicts. It’s a fantastically fun and educational ride.

5. Ten Little Fingers And Ten Little Toes (Mem Fox & Helen Oxenbury)

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Told in rhyme, the precious art of Helen Oxenbury and peacefully sweet text of Mem Fox introduces us to babies of a great many different cultures, shapes, and sizes, each born with ten little fingers and ten little toes. It’s a fabulous book for even the youngest of bookworms, and reinforces a classic message: though we may all be wonderfully different, we all start out just the same; small, curious, full of wonder, and free from hate.

There we are, friends! Our Top 5 Multicultural Children’s Books! Did we leave any out? What are some of your favorite multicultural book for children? Do you plan on sharing any of these books with your kids? Let us know in the comments, or message us from the contact page, we’d love to hear from you! Thanks so much for joining us, now go and #ReadYourWorld!