Turkey’s Sandtastic Beach Day (Wendi Silvano)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Turkey’s Sandtastic Beach Day, written by Wendi Silvano and illustrated by Lee Harper, the latest title in the pair’s series of pun-filled Turkey Trouble books.

This time around, Turkey and his barnyard friends have been brought to the boardwalk to be in a petting zoo for the Children’s Festival, but Turkey finds himself drawn to the sea. Wanting to check out the sand and surf, he and his animal friends devise a series of (questionably) covert costumes to let him sneak his way onto the beach, but each time he is caught by the lifeguard or Farmer Jake. Will Turkey find a way get his day of fun in the sun?

Just fine. The Turkey Trouble series, which typically revolves around holiday celebrations like Christmas or Valentine’s Day, has created some charmingly goofy stories with their signature format in the past, but the premise of this one seems thin at the jump. It’s never clearly explained why Turkey is not allowed on the beach, and this conceit seems to be quickly forgotten by the end of the story when it conflicts with the resolution. The puns are suitably groan-worthy, and young readers will likely enjoy them and Turkey’s ludicrous attempts at camouflage (though these, like the premise, seem a little weak when compared to the series’ previous titles). Still, the ending is cute and satisfying, the artwork dynamic, the length good for a storytime, and it gave JJ and I a few chuckles. Overall, it has the potential for a light and fun summer read, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Even Superheroes Get Scared (Shelly Becker)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Even Superheroes Get Scared, written by Shelly Becker and illustrated by Eda Kaban, third in the pair’s series of superhero-themed books on managing emotions.

We might be inclined to believe that superheroes are never scared when facing off against bad guys, especially of such pedestrian things as bugs or thunder or dogs… right? Well, superheroes get scared too, but if they allow their fear to control them, they aren’t able to save the day. So what is a superhero to do? Run and hide? Or allow themselves to feel scared, then make the choice to be brave? From that point, there are lots of ways to cope with and process their fears, and slowly tolerate or even overcome them. Because the truth is, everyone feels afraid sometimes… even superheroes.

Gently encouraging. Becker and Kaban’s unique crew of diverse supers are back, this time to deal with their fears and save the city at the same time. The text does a great job of relating fears like heights, the dark, and small spaces to the lives of its superheroes, giving kids who may share them a sense of recognition and validation. From there, the rhyming narrative weaves in some solid lessons in managing fear, some of which may be a little advanced for younger kids (such as planning ahead to minimize risk, or confronting intrusive thoughts), but all center around the idea that courage and fear are not mutually exclusive, and in fact go hand in hand. It’s a reassuring and uplifting message that kids will be drawn to, in a well-paced book, and JJ and I enjoyed it. Overall, a great addition to the series, and absolutely worth a look for young superhero fans – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

I Love You More Than Cereal: Maeva and Dad Redefine Love (Justin & Alexis Black)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Love You More Than Cereal: Maeva and Dad Redefine Love, written by Justin and Alexis Black and illustrated by 1000 Storybooks, a thought-provoking lesson on how we express love.

Maeva absolutely loves her new purple bicycle, and can’t wait to finish her breakfast and ride it to the park. She excitedly tells her dad how she will make the other kids jealous with it, then refuse to share her candy; she reckons that by making the other kids envious of the things that she loves, she will be even happier with them. Fortunately, her dad patiently sets her straight, explaining that love is not just something we feel, but how we treat others and ourselves. He uses examples of their family life to illustrate how love is patient and forgiving, not boastful or exacting. Afterwards, Maeva better understands the importance of unselfish love, and how it is as much as gift to herself as it is to others.

A sweet treat. This indie title does a lot of things right; in particular, the authors’ ability to adopt the biblical I Corinthians 13:1 into secular plain-language that can appeal to readers of any faith. Artwork is occasionally flat, but features a creative use of color and dynamic angles to support the story well. There are a couple of small editing errors, and a troubling lack of emphasis on talking to trusted adults when peers display bullying behavior; Maeva is rather encouraged to show love even when others are not deserving of it, which can be a dangerous lesson if removed from context. Otherwise, the length is good, and JJ enjoyed the story. This could make a great jumping off point to a conversation on empathy, and is worth a look – Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Rain (Cynthia Rylant)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Rain, written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Lisa Congdon, a lyrical ode to the joys of a rainy day.

As a light spring storm approaches a country home, there a signs of the weather change everywhere: birds chatter to inform each other of the oncoming rain; squirrels and cats head for cover (trees and indoor windowsills, respectively); children come in from play; ducks excitedly waddle off to the pond. And when the rain comes, “it is glorious!”, bringing water to flowers, birdbaths, dogs bowls, and the creek. Even those who have sheltered inside enjoy the pitter-patter from their cozy vantage point. In all, rain brings lovely things, and leaves each place it visits a little better for having been.

Cheerfully mellow. Rylant’s text reads with the cadence of a meditative nature poem, and makes for a wonderful experience when reading the book aloud, especially when paired with Congdon’s understated yet eye-catching illustrations. Meanwhile, the text also manages to tuck in some tidbits that kids will find fascinating, such as that dogs can smell rain a day before it arrives. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved the bright, warm illustrations and the engaging text. Overall, a perfect rainy-day read, and Baby Bookworm approved!

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

I Am Mine Alone (Raquel Díaz Reguera)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the powerful I Am Mine Alone by Raquel Díaz Reguera, translated by Cecilia Ross, an affecting metaphor that helps us recognize the difference between love and control.

Mousy, a hardworking mouse with lots of friends, is excited to have moved in with her partner, Buck. However, she quickly finds that living with Buck is not what she had imagined it would; they fight often, he buys her presents that encourage her to change her interests and style, he discourages her from spending time with her friends, and he frequently says things that make her feel small and scared. Mousy rationalizes that this is how Buck express his love, but as her friends begin to worry, Mousy begins to feel more and more unhappy (while Buck begins to look less and less like a fellow mouse). Will Mousy find the courage to break free from her dynamic with Buck, and find herself again?

Wow. First, I’ll say that this is probably a title better reserved for older readers; both the language and themes seem to be geared towards older elementary/juvenile audiences. However, I have never seen a picture book deal so candidly and so movingly with the issue of intimate partner abuse in most of its forms – emotional, verbal, physical, etc (sexual abuse, however, is not mentioned). Those who are aware of Buck’s tactics will recognize gaslighting, manipulation, and intimidation; those who are not will receive a crash course in the way abusers use these behaviors to isolate and control their targets. And between the narrative and visual storytelling, Reguera weaves a strikingly poignant cautionary/educational tale that ends in triumph, community, and self-determination. The length is fine for older kiddos, and while the majority of the story went over her head, JJ was still able to recognize and agree with the key themes: love should never make us afraid, and a person belongs only to themselves. Overall, an amazing achievement, and Baby Bookworm approved.

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