Imaginary Fred (Eoin Colfer & Oliver Jeffers)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer & Oliver Jeffers, a quirky reflection on friendship.

When a lonely child wishes very hard, and the conditions are just right, Imaginary Fred arrives to be their imaginary friend. It can often be fulfilling (playing pretend, having discussions, sharing secrets) and sometimes not (when his “friends” are rude or bossy or cruel). Yet Fred is faithful in his position, being the best friend he can be – that is, until his friend makes a “real world” friend. Then Fred fades away, and is whisked back up into the clouds to wait for the next child. Fred makes his own wish: for a friend who is forever, someone who likes the things HE likes to do, and who appreciates his him. Soon he meets Sam; like Fred, Sam is quiet, thoughtful, artistic and creative. The pair spend all their time together, discussing music and writing plays. But as happy as Fred is, he fears the day will come when Sam will let him fade like all the others. And when Sam comes home excited about his new friend Sammi, Fred feels certain his time is up. But the best friendships are full of surprises, and Sam is not the type to let his friend fade away…

Very interesting. On the surface, there’s a wonderfully strange little story about imaginary friends, filled with delightful and unexpected moments of laugh-out-loud humor. But what I really loved were the unique themes surrounding friendship: how it can grow and change, how it may not always make sense to others, and how our best friends may even lead us to better ones. At the end of the book, Sam’s friend Sammi introduces Fred to Frieda, HER imaginary friend. And as close as Sam and Fred are, Fred comes to find that it’s FRIEDA who he was waiting for (the two are implied to be soulmates, platonic or otherwise). It’s a fascinating twist, and familiar to anyone who has watched their other friendships change after finding their “person”. Jeffers’ illustrations are perfect for the tone, full of quiet emotion and whimsical humor, and JJ loved them. The length may be better for slightly older bookworms, but this was such a strange, touching, lovely little read. 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!

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

Hello, friends! Our book today is Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers, a charmingly sweet welcome guide to our planet for the newest arrivals.

Welcome, 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. There are pointy, cold mountains, and hot, flat grasslands, and deep, mysterious oceans (though we can talk more about the latter once you’ve learned to swim). There are all kinds of people here, all different shapes and sizes and colors, but all of them people just like you. There are stars and constellations and planets and solar systems in the skies, and car and cities and animals here on earth, and inside your brain? Oh, there’s the potential for even more than all of that combined! It can be a little overwhelming, but we’ll take it step by step as you grow. And if you have any questions, you can always ask me, or other family, or anyone really. We are here, after all – you’re never alone on Planet Earth.

Phenomenal. Jeffers created Here We Are as a gift for his first child, and it shows in the care, humor, and affection that sing from each page. 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-cheeky look at the solar system informs and amuses. The text is clever, sweet, and full of wonder at the world around. The length is great, and JJ absolutely loved it. The rare story that little ones can enjoy more and more and they grow, and that encourages us to be curious and kind. Baby Bookworm approved!

Top 5: Books About Books

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Hi, friends! Well, it’s the end of April, so it’s time for another Top 5 list! Earlier this month, book lovers everywhere celebrated National Library Week from April 9th through the 15th (we did!), a recognition of public libraries and the important resources and services they provide. In addition, April 2nd was International Children’s Book Day, a celebration of children’s literature worldwide. So we thought we’d wrap up April with a Top 5 of books… about books! We’ve chosen five of our favorite stories that celebrate books, reading and literacy, and the impact they can have on baby bookworms just like JJ.

So, for your enjoyment, here is our list of Top 5 Books About Books:

1. Books Always Everywhere (Jane Blatt)

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A perfect book for beginner bookworms, this book of opposites explores concepts like big and small, stop and start, scary and funny, etc., through the lens of books and reading. Delightful illustrations by Sarah Massini are colorful and expressive for little ones, and hide funny allusions and sly jokes for adults. This is a great twist on the theme of opposites, teaching young readers while encouraging a love of literacy and an appreciation for the great diversity of literature and stories.

2. The Snatchabook (Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty)

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A wonderful story about the power of reading together, The Snatchabook tells the tale of a brave, book-loving bunny named Eliza Brown who is determined to find out who has been stealing the stories of Burrow Down. When she discovers the culprit, a little creature called a Snatchabook, she finds that his motivations are not at all what she had thought, and it’s her love of sharing her favorite books that ends up saving the day. This is a great story: the rhyming text has a great flow and is fun to read aloud, the illustrations highlight both the spooky and joyful elements of the story, and the message about the importance of reading together is just wonderful.

3. How This Book Was Made (Mac Barnett)

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Books that are funny for kids are wonderful, but books that I can laugh along with JJ to are rare, and this is one that had us both rolling. The fractured, exaggerated, and extremely embellished tale of how books go from idea to actuality is filled with refreshing silliness, sly tongue-in-cheek humor, and wonderfully quirky art by Adam Rex. Plus, it’s message is ultimately a wonderful one: for all the many people, processes, and unexpected hurdles that a book has to go through to get published, a book is not a book until someone takes it home, opens it up, and reads.

4. The Highest Mountain Of Books In The World (Rocio Bonilla)

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A gorgeous fable about the power of stories to transport us, The Highest Mountain Of Books In The World tells the story of Lucas, a young boy who dreams of flying despite his numerous failed attempts to do so. One day, his mother places a book in his hands and says, “There are other ways to fly, Lucas.” This book is rich with metaphor in both the story and art, and all of the concepts explored are as well-executed as they are touching: that books can be our wings, that a great story is able to transport a reader into its world, and that fostering a love of reading in a child is an act of love.

5. A Child Of Books (Oliver Jeffers & Sam Winston)

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This drop-dead gorgeous book uses a simple, timeless story and breathtaking mixed-media art to write a love letter to words. A little girl sets sail on her raft of imagination, built by the words she reads, and invites her young friend along. Together they explore mysterious lands, battle fierce creatures, and sleep among the clouds in the sky, transported by the text of the stories they read. The lesson is this: when you are a child of books, the entirety of the universe is right at your fingertips, and your imagination is your key to it. Sam Winston’s jaw-dropping illustrations build magical worlds using the very words of the books the children read, creating both apt metaphor and inviting the reader to closely examine each page. A wonderful story for readers of any age that celebrates the power of words to transport us to new horizons.

So there we are! A Top 5 of books perfect for the littlest readers in your life. Plus, we wanted to add one honorable mention: The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce is a beautiful fable about our relationships with books and the value of a life lived in words, and the only reason we didn’t include it on this list is because we’ve used it in a Top 5 in the past (though honestly, it’s hard not to put this book on EVERY list we write; it’s that good). What do you think? Did we miss any of your favorites? Do you have a book about books you’d like to recommend to us? Let us know in the comments, or message us from our Contact page. Thanks so much, and happy reading!

A Child Of Books (Oliver Jeffers & Sam Winston)


Hello, friends! Today, we read a gorgeous story called A Child Of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston, a celebration of the written word and the magical lands it can transport you too.

The story is simple: a little girl sets sail on her raft of imagination, built from the words she reads, and invites another young child along. Together, they explore forests, fight monsters, and sleep among the clouds, transported by the text of the stories they read. After all, the entire universe is at your fingertips if you are a child of books, and your imagination is the key.

As always, we adore a children’s book that pays tribute to reading and stories and how important they are in our lives, and this one does so with a sense of majesty. The art is especially breathtaking: the landscapes and creatures of each world the children travel to is crafted from typeset quotes from classic children’s books and songs (the clouds they sleep on in a starlit sky, for instance, are made of the lyrics to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star). In addition to being so original and symbolic, this feature makes this a book that children can come back to as their reading abilities develop, and could even help them discover new books. The story’s text is lovely to read, and the length is great, and JJ really enjoyed this one, as did I. A perfect addition to any young reader’s library. Baby Bookworm approved!