Top 5: Foxes

top

Hello, friends! It’s the start of a new month, so we’re celebrating with a new Top 5! This month, we thought we’d take a look at books featuring one of our favorite animals: Foxes! Who doesn’t love a clever, cuddly fox? Without further ado, here’s The Baby Bookworm’s Top 5 Books About Foxes:

1. The Fox In The Dark (Alison Green, illus. Deborah Allwright)

img_5750

Rabbit runs home at a hurried pace; there is a vicious fox out in the dark tonight. As soon as he secures himself in his burrow for the night, he hears a knock on the door. A duck has gotten stranded in the woods, and asks to take shelter with the rabbit. Soon after, an exhausted mouse and a timid lamb also beg sanctuary, making Rabbit’s only bed quite crowded for the evening. And just as they are settling in, there is another knock at the door: the fox! But he isn’t quite what he appears to be…

“This is one of our favorite bedtime books, and we enjoy it every time. The message, that things and people are rarely as simple as they appear, is a classic but with an important twist: don’t fear what you don’t understand. By revealing that the fox isn’t hunting for a meal but for her lost cub, it encourages little readers to consider things from all perspectives before snapping to judgement.”

2. Faraway Fox (Jolene Thompson, illus. Justin K. Thompson)

img_0331

A fox wanders what used to be the fields and forests of his home, now a confusing landscape of concrete, cars, and people. He has been separated from his family by an interstate, and he spends his days exploring the unfamiliar area. One day, he finds some humans building a tunnel under the freeway, and when he explores it, he finds that it leads to a wildlife preserve… and his family!

“This is a bold attempt to explain a common modern problem to children: urban sprawl and the effect it has on wildlife. In this, it succeeds, with gorgeous illustrations and a satisfying ending.”

3. Pandora (Victoria Turnbull)

img_6621

Pandora lives all alone in a land of broken things. She uses her cleverness and ingenuity to build a cozy home and fix lost treasures, but she is still lonely. One day, a small bluebird injures itself nearby, and Pandora takes the little bird in. The two grow close, and when the bird is healthy enough to fly away, it always returns with treasures from far-off lands, fixing them into a nest as a gift for Pandora. One day, the bird doesn’t return, and Pandora is broken-hearted. But when she wakes one sunny morning, she finds that once the seeds of friendship are planted and nourished, they will grow – and that it may take a while, but true friends always find their way back home.

“This is a stunning story that uses lovely, soothing art and simple text to cover some surprisingly advanced ideas. It’s a beautiful fable for young ones, but older readers will recognize subtle themes like depression, hope, and healing within the story’s message of friendship and kindness being returned to those who give it. It’s surprisingly powerful, especially with art that conveys these emotions as much as it does the story being told.”

4. Little Fox In The Forest (Stephanie Graegin)

img_2494

This wordless picture book begins with a teacher telling a class of students, including the protagonist, that the next day will be show-and-tell; they should bring something precious and old. The little girl protagonist knows just what to bring: her beloved toy fox, which she has had since she was a baby as a constant companion. After class, she brings the little fox to the playground with her friends, but as she is enjoying the swings, a real-life fox snatches it from her backpack! The little girl and her best friend race after the fox, going on an adventure through the woods that parallels the adventure of the toy fox and its new owner. Will the little fox find its way back home – or will home become something new and unexpected?

“JJ isn’t usually interested in wordless picture books, but we really enjoyed this one! The story is so charming and exciting, the characters are so expressive, and the illustrations so detailed and lively that it was easy to enjoy the story with our own narration. The ending was especially wonderful, with both the little girl and the real fox showing each other a touching generosity and kindness that stands as a great lesson for little ones.”

5. The Antlered Ship (Dashka Slater, illus. The Fan Brothers)

img_4595

Marco the fox is filled with big questions. His fellow foxes have little interest in his questions, content to their workaday lives. So when Marco sees the antlered ship dock in the harbor, and the captain offers work as a crewman, Marco accepts. But once the new crew disembarks, they find that sailing a ship is difficult work. Finding what they are each talented at, the crew eventually bands together and becomes a great team, each discovering what they initially sought – except for Marco. He still has more questions… but perhaps he has found the answer to one of them without even realizing.

“Just lovely. This is one part a story of finding friendship, one part a story of finding oneself, one part adventure tale, and one part meditation on the unknown, all wrapped up in a bundle of gorgeously detailed and stunningly imaginative art. The text is clever, sometimes wry and often profound, weaving a story that sweeps the reader along through the highs and lows of the animals’ voyage. The art is beautiful, evoking a quiet sense of wonder and wanderlust with each page.”

That’s our list! 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!

Top 5: Women’s History Month – Part 2

top

Hello, friends! As you may know, March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate incredible women and their contributions to science, the arts, government, society and humanity. In honor of this, we’re here to present our second annual Women’s History Month Top 5! We loved compiling part one of this list last year, so we’ve pulled together some amazing kidlit biographies of female luminaries that we’ve enjoyed in the year since.

To celebrate the start of March, here’s a few more of our favorite books for Women’s History Month:

1. A Lady Has The Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out For Women’s Rights (Kate Hannigan, illus. Alison Jay)

img_4564

Growing up in the late 1800’s, Belva Lockwood outright refused to be treated any differently than a boy. She pursued a degree in education, then went back to get her law degree when women were banned from studying law. When she became a lawyer, she dedicated herself to taking cases that no one else wanted: women, former slaves, Native Americans. She fought hard and long, eventually becoming the first woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court, and the first women to run for President.

“Along with a good overview of Belva – who she was, what she believed, and her many accomplishments – the story also integrates her powerful quotes in both the text and the illustrations. The art is meant to emulate oil paintings of the era, and do a fantastic job of bringing Belva and the time she lived in to life. […] This one is an absolute winner, and a great choice to show little ones that they should never let the world they live in dictate the person that they have the will to become.”

2. Shark Lady: The True Story Of How Eugenie Clark Became The Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist (Jess Keating, illus. Marta Álvarez Miguéns)

img_3087

When she was a child, there was no place Eugenie would rather be than the aquarium, watching and learning about her beloved sharks; while many people saw them as mindless eating machines, Eugenie saw fascinating and intelligent creatures. Eugenie dedicated her life to studying sharks and other marine life, fighting discrimination against her gender and public views of sharks the whole way. Eugenie refused to be scared – of the sharks or the people – and made breakthrough discoveries that have changed what we know about sharks to this day.

“[…T]he perfect way to introduce Eugenie and her love of marine biology to younger ones. The text is written in a […] story-like narrative, which allows little readers to follow her childhood and early career. The illustrations are wonderful, full of color, joy, determination, and just a hint of fantasy that inspires readers to see the world through Eugenie’s eyes. […] JJ loved all the sharks and fishes, and I loved the message: girls can be and do whatever they dream of… they simply have to dive in.”

3. Ella, Queen Of Jazz (Helen Hancocks)

img_5078

In the 1950’s, there was no better blues and jazz singer than Ella Fitzgerald, but there was terrible prejudice in the way of Ella achieving all her dreams as a singer. At the fanciest joint in town, Ella was turned away at the door, and she was heartbroken. But Ella was about to receive a very surprising call, thanks to one of the most famous women in Hollywood, so that her incredible voice could be heard any stage she graced it with.

“[…A] wonderful story of women helping women, and Hancocks does a fabulous job of telling it. She wisely keeps the focus on Ella until the very end, noting that it was her talent and perseverance had earned her the opportunity, and Monroe’s intervention was simply to force the hand of the racist club policies. Then, she celebrates the real-life friendship between the two, showing little readers that the key to overcoming our differences is by bonding over our similarities. It’s all wrapped up in a beautiful package of simple yet engaging text and colorful period-inspired art.”

4. Brave Girl: Clara And The Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike Of 1909 (Michelle Markel, illus. Melissa Sweet)

img_7548

To look at Clara Lemlich when she arrived in New York City, she wouldn’t have looked like much: five feet tall, only seventeen years old, and barely able to speak English. Clara went to work in a garment factory sweatshop, encountering deplorable working conditions and cruel and corrupt bosses. Unwilling to be treated unfairly, Clara encouraged her fellow workers to form a union and strike, eventually organizing a walkout of 20,000 workers and inspiring similar strikes across the country.

“[…T]old clearly and powerfully, yet briefly enough for little bookworms to make it through in one sitting. And it’s a great story: the tale of a brave young woman with an emphasis on education, courage, justice, and the power of both united people and women in general. The illustrations were lovely, and peppered with some truly clever mixed-media elements that made it stand out. JJ and I both really enjoyed this look at a real-life feminist hero[…]”

5. Hidden Figures: The True Story Of Four Black Women And The Space Race (Margot Lee Shetterly & Winifred Conkling, illus. Laura Freeman)

img_5193

Based on Shetterly’s book of the same name, Hidden Figures examines the contributions of four remarkable women of color to the space and aeronautics industry from WWII to the height of the space race. Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Johnson were all good at math… VERY good. However, all four live in a time in which women, especially black women, are held back by racist and sexist laws and conventions. But these women knew that they had valuable gifts, so they fought, studied, and persisted to have their work recognized for the indispensable contribution it was.

“The women of Hidden Figures are remarkable, both in their natural intellect and the fortitude they showed in fighting for advancement and recognition, and this book does a good job of editing their stories down for young readers […] The illustrations are fabulous, staying grounded in reality yet adding just a touch of artistic flair to drive vital points home. […] A knockout that celebrates science, women, and people of color […]”

 

That’s our list! We’d also like to note the fabulous She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed The World, written by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger – the only reason it wasn’t included on this list is because we’ve featured it on another. There are also plenty more wonderful stories of real-life girl power, and we encourage our readers to use this month to discover them! 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!

Top 5: Black History Month

top

Hello, friends! As most of you know, tomorrow begins Black History Month, a time to focus on the importance of black Americans to our history, culture and identity as a nation. We’ll be taking time all this month to read and review books that celebrate black history, important figures, and black culture, and we encourage you to do the same! There are some truly amazing books out there that explore these topics, and we wanted to use this month’s Top 5 list to take a look at a few titles that you may not know about, or that focus on moments in black history that often get overlooked.

So to celebrate the start of February, here’s a few of our favorite books for Black History Month:

1. A Splash Of Red: The Life And Art Of Horace Pippin (Jen Bryant, illus. Melissa Sweet)

img_0354

Born with a passion and talent for art and a loving and supportive family, Horace Pippin overcomes poverty, war, and a debilitating injury to become a prolific and nationally recognized artist in his own time. This story of Pippin’s life explores his life, his inspiration, and his indomitable determination to create.

“Horace is a wonderful role model, and his story is told beautifully here. Especially lovely are the illustrations, which capture life, mood, and character gorgeously in a style that emulates Pippin’s paintings. […] A fantastic biography of a true artist […]”

2. I, Too, Am America (Langston Hughes, illus. Bryan Collier)

img_1523

Using the text of the titular poem by Langston Hughes, Collier’s art tells the story of a Pullman railway porter, one of the first American jobs to offer black men decent pay and comparatively dignified work. Following the porter as he uses his position to help other African Americans improve their stations as well, we are then transported to the present, where a young black boy on a subway train peers into 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.”

3. The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore (Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illus. R. Gregory Christie)

img_1817

Told through the eyes of the son of founder Lewis Michaux, Sr., The Book Itch tells the story of the National Memorial African Bookstore, a hub of knowledge, culture, and civil rights activism from 1932 to 1974. Fighting racism and police harassment from his days peddling books from a cart, Lewis Sr. refuses to give up on his “book itch,” and his dream of sharing his passion for books, as well as the impact they can make on the world, with his community.

“[…T]his book is an absolute must-read. It focuses on civil rights, not only historically but as a basic human entitlement, the powers of literature, education, free thought, access to information, and the importance of community, all while telling the story of a remarkable man who believed that knowledge was the right and obligation of every man, woman and child, regardless of color, creed, or status.”

4. Harlem (Walter Dean Myers, illus. Christopher Myers)

img_6965

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, celebrating the neighborhood’s one-of-a-kind history of jazz, literature, activism and culture, and writing a love letter to a community built out of a desire for freedom; freedom of expression, freedom from discrimination, and the freedom to achieve.

“[…T]he 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.”

5. When The Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc And The Creation Of Hip Hop (Laban Carrick Hill, illus. Theodore Taylor III)

img_5603

An awesome tale of a revolutionary musical innovator and his contribution to the birth of hip hop, When The Beat Was Born tells the story of DJ Kool Herc (born Clive Campbell), a young Jamaican immigrant who brought together his love of the dancehall DJs of his youth with his unique style of mixing and rapping to help create a brand new genre of American music.

“Music history fans will love how the story of this seminal era of musical experimentation is told. For those unfamiliar with the origins of hip hop, this is an awesome primer for all ages that introduces the figures, styles and theory that brought hip hop to be. […] This is a great one, especially for young DJs and MCs looking to learn more about the roots of hip hop and the people who brought it to life.”

That’s our list! And there are many, MANY more stories of African American history and important figures out there – we encourage you to take this month to explore them! 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!

Top 5: Books About Dads

top

Hello, friends! As June comes to a close, we’re here with our latest Top 5 List! Since many of you enjoyed last month’s Top 5 Books About Moms, and we celebrated Father’s Day in June, we decided to follow up with a list of our favorite books about dads and the special relationship they share with their little ones.

So without further ado, here are The Baby Bookworm’s Top 5 Books About Dads:

1. My Dad Thinks He’s Funny (Katrina Germein)

13417617_10204897887126578_3011380362063345829_n

Dad jokes: love them or hate them, dads always seem to have a natural ability to make them. Be it puns that make us groan, goofy behavior that makes us blush, or the embarrassment of dads being daaaaads, we’ve all experienced the unique attempts at comedy that only fathers can provide. This is a great send-up of dad jokes, told from the point of view of an exasperated little boy and chock full of eye-rolling dad jokes. Tom Jellett’s collage-style illustrations create a unique world that is enjoyable and supports the humor well. It’s a sweet story with a moral that so many of us (especially those who have been through our teenage years) can relate to: while our dads can be terribly mortifying, we love them anyway. And yes, sometimes they can even make us laugh.

2. Daddy’s First Day (Mike Wohnoutka)

13532870_10204938803269456_463460851647992425_n

A hilariously sweet role-reversal story that made us (especially JJ’s daddy) grin. The first day of school can be a rite of passage that’s tough on everyone; especially, it seems, Oliver’s dad. After a summer of playing, reading, and spending time together, it’s time for Oliver’s first day of school, and he’s feeling pretty nervous. Oh no, Oliver’s not feeling nervous – but his dad is! Watching Oliver’s dad procrastinate dropping his son off at school, even projecting his feelings of trepidation onto his Oliver, is as humorous as it feels true; what parent doesn’t feel a bit unprepared to send their baby off to school for the first time? The art has a simple, earnest style that fits the guileless nature of the story. Overall, it’s a funny yet heartfelt tale of a devoted dad learning to let his little one grow, no matter how scary that might be.

3. Stella Brings The Family (Miriam B. Schiffer)

img_3492

June is also Pride Month, so we definitely wanted to include this fantastic story that combines LGBTQ families and celebrating the many roles that dads can have in their children’s lives. When Stella’s class is putting together a Mother’s Day party, she isn’t sure who to invite: while she has two daddies whom she adores, she doesn’t actually have a mother. Speaking to her teacher and classmates, she realizes that her fathers and extended family give her all the love and support that she needs, so she decides to invite all of them. While appearing feather-light on the surface, this is a story with great depth that shows that children in loving non-traditional families are in no way “missing out” in the places that their families differ from the nuclear model. Adorably sweet illustrations by Holly Clifton-Brown and a well-paced story create a fantastic celebration of families and the many shapes and forms they come in, and how having two fathers who love you is a point of pride.

4. My Dad Used To Be So Cool by Keith Negley

img_2123

This one is as much for the parents as it is for the kids, and we loved it. A little boy is pretty sure his dad used to be cool: he has tattoos, he used to ride a motorcycle, he even used to be in a band. But now he’s mostly just a normal, loving, chore-doing and only occasionally mortifying dad. The boy ponders what could have made his father change his lifestyle (the implied joke being, of course, that becoming a father did). Baby Bookworms like JJ will love the boldly-colored mod art style, and the former rockstars and rebels among us will definitely have a chuckle as the book reminds them of their pre-parenting wild days. There’s a sweet conclusion, too: while the glory days of rebellion may get left behind, being a loving daddy to a little one is classicly, timelessly cool.

5. Daddy Cuddle (Kate Mayes)

img_2650

Sweet, simple, and full of charm. A little bunny is the first to wake in his house, and rushes to wake his father and start the day. But no matter what activities the bunny tries to rouse his dozing father with, nothing seems to tempt the sleeping parent to wakefulness. At last, after the little bunny gives a frustrated shout, Daddy wakes up and, chuckling, pulls his little one into bed for early morning snuggles – the best activity to start a sleepy day with. Darling watercolor art by Sara Acton and simple two-word dialogue make this a great story for even the youngest baby bookworms. A heartfelt ode to both the boundless early-morning energy of little ones and the quiet, cuddly moments between father and child.

So, what do you think? Did we miss any of your favorites? Do you have a book about mothers you would like to recommend to us? Let us know in the comments, or message us from our Contact page. Thanks so much, and happy reading!

Top 5: Books About Moms

top

Hello, friends! We’re wrapping up May, so it’s time for another Top 5 list! Since this past month we celebrated both Mother’s Day and my birthday, I decided to be a little indulgent with this Top 5. So for this month’s list, we’ve rounded up our favorite books about moms. Be she mom, mommy, mama, or mother, there’s no denying the special bond a mother has with her child, and the books we’ve chosen for this list celebrate that connection.

So here we go: our Top 5 Books About Moms:

1. Silly Wonderful You (Sherri Duskey Rinker)

img_4412

This was actually the book we read for Mother’s Day this year, and it was a perfect pick. Told through the eyes of a (mostly) patient mother’s daily life with her rambunctious toddler, this book captures the highs, lows, messes, smells, laughs, tears, and wonders of being mother to a little one. Patrick McDonnell of Mutts fame uses his signature pen-and-ink illustrations to captures each preposterous and precious moment with joy and tenderness. It’s a sweet, funny yet sentimental book that makes for a perfect bedtime read, and it’s one of our new favorites.

2. The Runaway Bunny (Margaret Wise Brown)

IMG_4048

A classic tale from the same author/illustrator duo as Goodnight Moon, this touching and timeless tale is, in some ways, better than its more famous counterpart. A young bunny tells his mother that he is going to run away, going on grand adventures and becoming impossible things, and that he will leave her behind. The mother bunny knows better, however; no matter where he goes or what he becomes, she will always be with him in one way or another. The young bunny is comforted by this, deciding to stay put and be her little bunny instead. It’s a beautifully symbolic tale of a mother’s unconditional love, with art by Clement Hurd that still astounds after 75 years.

3. Love Is (Diane Adams)

img_2036-1

This book still brings a tear to my eye. Told in delicate rhyme and accompanied by flawless illustrations by Claire Keane, Love Is tells the story of motherhood to children by disguising it as a story about a pet duckling. A little girl finds a lost duckling, taking her in and caring for her. Through midnight feedings, messy bathtimes, and moments of fear and joy, the girl watches her duckling grow. And once the duckling is ready, though it pains her heart, she knows that it is time to let her little one out to explore the world on its own. This one is especially nice because, using the duckling metaphor, it shows that motherhood is not strictly a biological connection. It’s a gorgeous, touching, and timeless story that takes on new meaning with each read.

4. Still My Mommy (Megan Pomputius)

img_0312

Sometimes parents, whom little ones typically regard as indestructible, have health issues, and it can be a frightening time for an entire family. Still My Mommy, which author Pomputius based on her own experience with cancer, aims to comfort children through the scary, confusing, and difficult experience of watching a parent deal with a serious illness. Subdued and gentle art by Andrea Alemanno fits the tone of the book perfectly. While introducing some elements of cancer treatment, the most important part of this book is the message: that illness may change a loved one physically, mentally or emotionally, but they will always be the same person underneath. As the little girl in the book discovers, while her mother may be thinner and lose her hair, or may not be able to run and play as they once did, she will still always want to be with her little girl, because she is still her mommy.

5. Little One (Jo Weaver)

img_9585

A gorgeous tale of motherhood told through some of the most breathtaking art we’ve seen in a children’s book, Little One follows a mother bear and her cub through a year of their lives. As the seasons pass, the bear cub makes discoveries about his world and himself, always with his mother by his side to help and guide him. As the year draws to a close, the pair bed down in their den once more for a winter’s sleep, together as always. It’s a classic tale of mother and child, but the real star of the show here is the phenomenal charcoal art, which captures both the beauty of nature and motherhood with stunning detail. It’s a peaceful, calm, and touching book about a mother’s love.

There you have it! A Top 5 list of books perfect for mothers to share with their baby bookworms. We also wanted to add one honorable mention:  Stella Brings The Family by Miriam B. Schiffer is a beautiful story about how maternal influences need not always be from a mother, or even female. We wanted to include it for families who may not have a mother in their lives; motherhood is not necessarily a bond made by genetics, but it is always one made by love.

So, what do you think? Did we miss any of your favorites? Do you have a book about mothers you would like to recommend to us? Let us know in the comments, or message us from our Contact page. Thanks so much, and happy reading!