Baby Shark! (Stevie Lewis)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Baby Shark!, illustrated by Stevie Lewis, a fun board book version of the viral mega-hit song.

At the aquarium, a mother and child enter an underwater viewing area – will they see a shark? Of course! In fact, they see a baby shark (doo doo do do do do). Naturally, the baby shark is then followed by Mama Shark, Daddy Shark, and so on, with another child joining in the fun each verse while displaying static versions of the well-known “Baby Shark” dance. When the hungry sharks look sufficiently menacing, the kids run back to their caregivers, all “safe at last”, then wave a friendly goodbye to the smiling sharks.

At this point, is any parent of a child under the age of ten NOT aware of this song? The viral ditty and accompanying video by Pinkfong was a smash hit, and while the modern nursery rhyme has certainly worn out its welcome to many adults, kids love its harmless lyrics and catchy beat. Devotees of the original may be slightly confused by design differences in the sharks (multicolored in the original video, they are all shades of purple and blue here) and a few changes in the lyrics to better suit the narrative, but this take will still please and makes for some cheerful sing-a-long fun for young readers. The illustrations do a good job of working in an inclusive cast of children as well, and the length is perfect for a quick read. JJ, like most preschoolers, is obsessed with Baby Shark, and I honestly had fun reading/singing this version with her (though not on repeat). Simple, cute, and fun, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Dude! (Aaron Reynolds & Dan Santat)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dude!, written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Dan Santat, a delightful look at the many emotions that the titular word can express.

Using only one word of dialogue, the story follows two friends – a beaver and a platypus – as they meet up at the beach for a day of surfing. They make for the waves, and are enjoying the day (with a few small hiccups) when a shark arrives and sends them scrambling… that is, until they realize that the shark was only trying to be friendly. The duo make amends with ice cream and a spare surfboard, and the three friends continue their fun – just look out for those rocks!

Tons of fun! From their greetings, to acknowledgement of some treacherous rocks, to expressions of excitement, apprehension, encouragement, and affection, the word “dude” is emphasized in different ways through context clues in the illustrations and the design of the text. It makes reading the story fairly easy for little bookworms, and provides excellent practice in connecting tone and story through the art, which is filled with Santat’s wonderful sense of action and silliness. The details are hilariously goofy (the shark having the empty leg flopping off one side of his swim trunks, for example), and the exuberant nature of the story makes for an entertaining read-aloud. JJ adored the art, and was joining in with her own “Duuuuude!” by the end. A funny, zany, and charming summertime read, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved

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

Nugget & Fang (Tammi Sauer)

Hello, everyone! Today’s book is Nugget & Fang, written by Tammi Sauer and illustrated by Michael Slack, a hilarious and charming book about two best friends.

Nugget and Fang are the best friends in the ocean. They spend every day together, and that’s just about perfect. So naturally, it’s very difficult for them when Nugget starts school – and even more so when his school friends and teachers inform him that sharks like Fang eat minnows like Nugget! When Nugget informs Fang of this, effectively ending their friendship, Fang is brokenhearted: being a shark doesn’t make him a bad guy, does it? What he does know is that he needs his best buddy, so he’ll have to figure out a way to prove that being toothy doesn’t make you scary… but how?

This is always a fun one to read aloud for JJ; it’s got some wonderfully colorful art, expressive text and dialogue, and a great story with a surprisingly deep message. The way Nugget is peer-pressured and discouraged from his friendship with Fang, their reason being simply that Fang is a shark and therefore must be bad, is pretty clearly a metaphor for judging people on appearances and stereotypes. It’s a good way to teach children that people can’t be painted with broad strokes: Fang happens to be a vegetarian, and it’s his big sharp teeth that save the day. The art is fun, wth a cartoonish quality that gives the characters tons of personality. The length it great, and JJ adored this one. Definitely Baby Bookworm approved!