A Place To Start A Family: Poems About Creatures That Build (David L. Harrison)

Hello, friends! Our book today is A Place To Start A Family: Poems About Creatures That Build, written by David L. Harrison and illustrated by Giles Laroche, an informative look at the architects of the animal kingdom.

Split into sections by environment (Underground Builders, Water Builders, Flying Builders, etc.), each page spread offers a new animal to learn about – how and what they build, why they build it, and how they use it to protect or feed their families. Some animals are familiar, such as the beaver or termite, some are lesser-known, such as the trapdoor spider. And each animal is accompanied by a poem that explore their building habits in rhyming verse.

We’ve really been getting into poetry books lately, and this one was pretty good. The poems, done in varying styles and rhythms, are fun to read while being very informative – who knew the Kind Cobra is the only snake to build a nest for its young? – which is aided by a detailed appendix of each species. The art uses a mix of textures and illustration to create some colorful and compelling visuals, and the length is fine for reading all the way through in one sitting. JJ enjoyed it, and so did I; it’s a great way to learn about new animals while adding a bit of nonfiction poetic flair. Baby Bookworm, approved!

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

Trick-Or-Treat: A Happy Haunter’s Halloween (Debbie Leppanen)

Hello friends, and Happy Halloween! To celebrate this spooktacular holiday, our book today is Trick-Or-Treat: A Happy Haunter’s Halloween, written by Debbie Leppanen and illustrated by Tad Carpenter! This collection is filled with ghoulish and ghastly poems to get any little Bookworm in the holiday spirit!

Including 15 poems of various rhyme schemes and meters, the poems within Trick-Or-Treat are all themed around the spookiest and scariest holiday of the season, Halloween. Some creepy, some funny, and some that simply capture the Halloween spirit, each is accompanied by a clever illustrated spread and plenty of festive frights.

This is the second poem collection we’ve read, and I was once again pleased with how well the layout works for little readers. Each poem is fun-sized, and can be read one or two at a time, but the book can also be finished easily in a single sitting. The poems themselves definitely capture the Halloween vibe well – some even being a little creepier (though not too much so) than I had anticipated. The illustrations are very cute, yet often ridiculously dramatic. However, there was a slight issue of the art sometimes giving away the punchline or twist of the poem, which was a bit disappointing. Still, this was a frightfully fun collection to celebrate Halloween with, and we very much enjoyed it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Read! Read! Read! (Amy Ludwig VanDerwater)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is Read! Read! Read!, poems written by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and illustrated Ryan O’Rourke, a joyful and moving ode to books and reading for little ones.

Comprised of twenty-three poems written in different styles and forms, the reader is pulled into a celebration of reading, especially the impact that reading can have on a child. Books, magazines, newspapers, road signs, even the backs of cereal boxes; no type of reading is excluded or frowned upon. The poems explore the joy of getting lost in a thrilling story, how great books can change us or guide us through difficult times, and how we carry each tale we’ve read with us as we change and grow.

This book was an absolute delight. I was hesitant about a poem collection for JJ, considering the length, but this was so worth it. The poems themselves are bite-sized, only taking one or two minutes to read apiece, and the entire book can be completed comfortably in one sitting. And what marvelous poems they are, capturing the special relationship that children have with books and reading, and the impact that reading anything and everything can make on one’s life as they mature (the poem about Charlotte’s Web helping a young girl understand how to deal with grief was especially powerful). The illustrations are simply perfect, capturing the mood of each poem spectacularly and building fanciful and imaginative worlds around them. This one is a treasure, and JJ and I both loved it. Perfect for the little bookworm in your life, any age, and it’s 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!

Little Tree (e.e. cummings & Chris Raschka)

Happy Holidays Week, Day 7: Merry Christmas, everyone! Our book today was Little Tree, based on a poem by e.e. cummings with story and illustrations by Chris Raschka, a lovely Christmas tale of a little tree and all the joy it brings to the world.

A little tree sits in a little forest, waiting for the day it will become something more. Then one day, a little truck comes and drives the little tree to the little big city, where a little family lives. The tree waits on the sidewalk for them to come and choose it, so they can bring it home and decorate it will all their baubles and bits for Christmas.

This was a lovely little book based on a poem by one of my favorite poets. The cubist-inspired illustrations are fun and colorful, and the pleasant story is a good length and full of Christmas cheer (though you may be a little sick of the word “little” by the end of it). JJ enjoyed it, so this one is Baby Bookworm approved!