Little Otter Learns To Swim (Artie Knapp)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Little Otter Learns To Swim, written by Artie Knapp and illustrated by Guy Hobbs, the story of a little river otter’s very big day.

It’s Little Otter’s first day away from the den – that day she learns to swim. She is scared of the river, but her mother insists that it will be fine. And after a few practice splashes, she is! She finds that she loves swimming, and her mother shows her all the things she needs to know to stay safe in and around their river. After a few curious explorations and thrilling creature encounters, Mother Otter and Little Otter return to their den and curl up for a good night’s rest.

Very cute. Sticking to a simple, gentle story, the reader is introduced to the world of a river otter; primarily their environment and habitat, and the animals that share those with them. The illustrations are done in a realistic, naturalist-art style that gives a compelling look at animals both familiar and unfamiliar, such as bobcats, bumblebees, rainbow trout and more. The rhyming text takes an occasional stumble over rhythm and meter, but has an earnest sweetness that makes these awkward moments easy to forgive. The length was fine, and JJ loved looking at all the animals. Wonderful for wildlife fans, especially with the wealth of back matter on otters. We enjoyed it – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Look At Me!: Wild Animal Show-Offs (Jim Arnosky)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Look At Me!: Wild Animal Show-Offs by Jim Arnosky, a colorful look at how animals of all kinds use color, sound, and other tricks to express, defend, and identify themselves.

The latest in his nature series for kids, Arnosky introduces readers to animals who like to “show off”. Dividing them into shared characteristics such as “Fanned Tails” (peacocks and turkeys) or “Noisemakers” (rattlesnakes, bullfrogs, beavers, etc.), the text touches on various ways that animals use auditory or visual displays to establish dominance, find mates, ward off predators, and so on. Beautiful, eye-catching art brings each creature to life in stunning detail.

This was definitely interesting. It’s the first of this series that I’ve looked at, and there were definitely some elements that stood out. First, the art is simply stunning – richly colored and exceptionally realistic pencil drawings and paintings were a huge treat for JJ. However, I would definitely say that this is not a book for very small bookworms – while the illustrations are exceptional, the first-person journal-style text is not particularly suited for younger readers. It does give the book a sense of paging through a naturalist’s field journal, which could be neat for older readers, but also left the information covered a bit too disjointed for JJ to follow. Also, while Arnosky’s hand-picked examples and first-hand observations are interesting, they limit the breadth of the material covered in what is a rather short book of this type. I would be interested to see how this volume fits among the set, rather than standing on its own. Still, this is a wonderfully personal look inside some incredible animal species and a noted expert’s take on them, and would absolutely interest older animal- and nature-loving kids. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Over And Under The Snow (Kate Messner)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Over And Under The Snow, written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal, a look at the wondrous natural habitats that animals form during snowy winter.

A little girl and her father cross-country ski through a quiet wood, the trees bare and the ground covered in pure white snow. The girl sees a red squirrel disappear through a snowbank, and asks her father where the squirrel went. “Under The Snow,” he replies. As the girl and her father continue on their trek, they spot tracks and animals making their way through the frozen forest, while the reader is shown the animals who have made their shelter beneath the snowdrifts and the girl’s very feet.

This was a really pretty book with a lot of interesting information about how animals’ habitats can change in snowy climates. Between the tranquil, understated text that describes the activity above and below the snow and the serene simplicity of the mixed-media illustrations, the story achieves an almost meditative quality that is very soothing. For curious little readers, there is an informative appendix that expands on the information about the animals and habitats introduced throughout the book. The length is good, though I will say that the calmness of the text and the mostly-winter whites palette did not seem to hold JJ’s attention for long. This one would be best for slightly older bookworms, especially those interested in nature – animal lovers will treasure the gorgeous art and informative text. Overall, a lovely look at winter creatures, and Baby Bookworm approved!

Owl Sees Owl (Laura Godwin & Rob Dunlavey)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Owl Sees Owl by Laura Godwin and Rob Dunlavey, a unique and lovely little tale about a curious little owl on the nighttime.

Told in four words per page, the story begins with a young owl waking from sleep in the nest he shares with his mother and siblings. From there, he ventures out into the night sky, exploring a twilight world of autumn leaves, scampering mice, and moonlit ponds. Stopping to rest on a branch, he sees his reflection in the water (“owl sees owl”), and the text reverses, covering the same quartets of words backwards as the little owl makes his way back home.

This is a cool concept for a book, and we both really liked it. The simple, short vocabulary words that comprise the text make for a quick read for babies, while giving them gorgeous nighttime landscapes and creatures for illustrations, then transitions well into a book for beginning readers. And though it lacks a traditional narrative, the words are evocative enough to still make reading it aloud entertaining and fun. We enjoyed this one! Baby Bookworm approved!

Because Of An Acorn (Lola M. Schaefer & Adam Schaefer)

Hello, everyone, and Happy New Year! Our first book of 2017 is Because Of An Acorn, written by Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer, and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon, a gorgeous look at ecosystems and the importance of each element therein.

Because of an acorn, a tree can grow. Because of a tree, a bird can nest. Page by page, occasionally peeking through a cutout, this book explains in simple, minimal text the importance of each part of an ecosystem, and how even the smallest plant or animal can impact their environment.

This was a great book to explain how these sorts of communities in nature must maintain balance to thrive, and it’s a great length for very young readers. The illustrations are great, and fill each new species with color and life. JJ enjoyed it a lot, and this is great for anyone wanting to teach little readers about the importance of each great tree, and each little acorn. Baby Bookworm approved!