Bone Soup (Alyssa Satin Capucilli)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Bone Soup, written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and illustrated by Tom Knight, a Halloween-flavored spin on a classic fable.

The three witch sisters search their cupboard for something to eat, finding only a bone. Taking it to the monster’s house next door, they offer soup in exchange for a bit of water to mix it up. The monster doubts their claims, but his daughter convinces him to contribute. After a taste test, Scraggy Witch declares it scrumptious – if only there was something savory to add. The next neighbor, a ghost, reluctantly offers a giant’s eye. Soon, more creepy creatures are adding ingredients – but as their hunger grows, their patience thins. Will the witches have the soup ready in time? Or will they end up in the brew?

Using the old folktale of Stone Soup, Capucilli adds elements of Halloween – monsters, trick-or-treating, gross-out foods – to create a delightful and festive story. Unfortunately, the addition of the monsters’ intimidating impatience diminishes the original’s message of sharing and community, and it’s unclear if the soup involves actual magic (suggested by the witch chefs and a spell performed over it). This isn’t necessarily bad, as it adds to the creepy-cute aesthetic and tone, but it is worth noting. The illustrations are wonderful, using a classic orange/green/purple/black Halloween palette and some hilarious character design to keep things lively. My only real complaint is a persona one: while the ingredients are suitably icky-yet-funny for young readers, I must admit that the mention of some – like old toenails or “juice of toad” – made my stomach turn at the thought. There’s a recipe in the back with normal ingredients, but the illustrations show them as written – yuck. But otherwise, the length was great and JJ loved it. Baby BOOkworm approved!

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

Mighty Tug (Alyssa Satin Capucilli)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Mighty Tug, written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and illustrated by David Mottram, a cute tale of a tiny yet tough boat.

As morning dawns over the harbor, Mighty Tug lets out a “CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG”, then gets to work. She has a busy job to do, guiding and towing the much larger boats safely around the docks and each other. She hauls great shipping boats and old fishing schooners, fast yachts and even a fireboat on its way to extinguish a blaze. And after a long day of hard work, she receives a wink from Lady Liberty, then looks out with pride over her busy, beloved harbor.

Simple yet sweet. The plot is very basic, looking mostly at a day in the life of a New York Harbor tugboat and the many different types of ships and boats that she interacts with, without much rising or falling tension. This isn’t a bad thing, and young fans of boats and other nautical craft will go wild over the adorable illustrations of Tug and her companions. In fact, I loved that Tug was given feminine pronouns; it’s nice for these “big vehicle” books to represent the machines as both male and female, and there’s something lovely about the metaphor of a little female ship having a ton of power to move around much bigger ships. The text is sweet, with plenty of onomatopoeia for little ones to enjoy, but the rhyme scheme was often very confusing and clunky, which made reading it aloud a bit difficult. Still, the length was good, and JJ seemed to enjoy it. This one had some choppy waters, but it would still be a treat for any young maritime enthusiast, so we’re calling it Baby Bookworm approved!