Misunderstood Shark (Ame Dyckman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Misunderstood Shark, written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Scott Magoon, a delightfully silly look at shark facts.

Jellyfish Bob is ready to start his “fun facts” show about sea creatures, not realizing that a shark is stalking up out of the shadows to eat him… or is he? The shark claims that he really just wanted to show off all his teeth (which, as Bob helpfully informs the audience, sharks can lose and grow 30,000 of in their lifetime). So follow a series of “misunderstandings” – the shark wasn’t going to eat that baby seal; he only wanted to return her to her parents (earning the seals’ admiration). Sniffing a bit of blood, the shark swirls into a frenzy… but only to give the terrified humans a BandAid for their scratch. All the while, Bob helpfully spouts off shark facts to his audience and increasingly dubious crew. Perhaps sharks aren’t as dangerous as they seem… but perhaps not.

Silly yet educational fun. Dyckman has done something sneaky and brilliant here, using comedy to introduce a very real aspect of popular opinion on sharks: they are both very dangerous yet also very much not. While it’s true that sharks can be dangerous up close, they pose very little threat overall, and are important parts of their ecosystems. What’s more, we’re still learning much about them, which make Bob’s true fun-facts just as welcome. And while the ending does involve Bob becoming lunch, his survival in Shark’s tummy keeps things from getting too dark. Magoon’s broad characters, with expressive features and toothy grins, are a perfect compliment to the light tone of the story. The length was great, and JJ and I had a lot of fun with this one. A wonderful story that reminds us that sharks are amazing – just not to be trifled with. Baby Bookworm approved!

Wee Beasties: Touchy The Octopus Touches Everything (Ame Dyckman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Wee Beasties: Touchy The Octopus Touches Everything, written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Alex G. Griffiths, third in one of our favorite series.

Much like his predecessors, Roary the lion and Huggy the python, Touchy the octopus has a quirky bad habit. Specifically, Touchy likes to use all eight of his tentacles to touch the things he loves, even when those things are delicate or dangerous. Like his friends before him, Touchy must learn the power of self-restraint – with the guidance of the helpful reader, naturally!

Let me tell you, the Wee Beasties have been a SLEEPER HIT in our house since we read Roary and Huggy, so Touchy was welcomed with open arms. The repetition-driven and interactive plot formula remains the same, letting this new friend slide in effortlessly with his peers. So same are the wonderfully colorful and dynamic illustrations, which have the added mania of Touchy’s jumble of arms extending off and on the page as they explore. One notable difference is the climatic interactive portion: instead of modeling the acceptable behavior by engaging with the character on the page, children must show restraint themselves by placing their hands behind their backs and NOT touching. It was a little tricky for JJ – who was so familiar with the interactive portion of the last two books – but well-done, especially as it introduces a new tool/strategy for encouraging self-control. The length is fine for all ages, and JJ was delighted – another Wee Beasties winner, and Baby Bookworm approved!

Huggy The Python Hugs Too Hard & Roary The Lion Roars Too Loud (Ame Dyckman)

Hello, friends! Today’s review is of two board books from the Wee Beasties series: Huggy The Python Hugs Too Hard and Roary The Lion Roars Too Loud, both written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Alex G. Griffiths.

Aiming to help little ones learn basic social skills, both books introduce adorable characters with lessons to learn. For instance, Huggy the python loves to hug the things he loves, but he finds that when he hugs things too tight (such as a balloon or an ice cream sundae), he can break or hurt them. Similarly, Roary the lion loves to let loose his big roar, more often than not startling his family members. In both cases, the reader is employed to help teach the character how to calmly interact, gently hugging a puppy and quietly wishing a baby “night-night.” And once the reader sets such a wonderful example, the characters learn how to gently and responsibly show their excitement.

We LOVED these! The lessons were well-imparted, necessary, and used the interactive elements in both fun and educational ways. The characters and illustrations were absolutely charming, and the friendly conversational text made reading them aloud a joy. The lengths were perfect, and JJ had an absolute blast with them, especially the interactive pages and the art. Even the clever twist at the end of Roary was perfect. I hope to see more of this series very soon, because these two are emphatically Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: Copies of these books were provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Read The Book, Lemmings! (Ame Dyckman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Read The Book, Lemmings!, written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah OHora, a hilariously silly tale of three little lemmings and the dangers of illiteracy.

Captain PB and Foxy the first mate are sailing their container ship/whale, the S.S. Cliff, through a frozen sea when they are joined by three adorable little lemmings. Brushing up on the creatures, Foxy is surprised to learn from his book that lemmings do NOT, in fact, jump off of cliffs. But the moment he says the word “jump” aloud, the three headstrong lemmings decide that this sounds like fun, and leap into the frigid ocean! Foxy hurries to rescue them, warm them up, then give them names (so he can properly scold them). He urges them to read the book, but after a few disastrous failed attempts to keep them out of the water, he realizes that the lemmings cannot read. Having earned their love and devotion through his multiple rescues, Foxy teaches the lemmings to read so that they can discover for themselves the truth of lemmings – though it does little to temper their adventurous spirits…

Wonderful! Having adored Dyckman and OHora’s previous collaborations, I was so excited to read this one, and it did not disappoint! The story is light, original, and a perfect mix of silly and sweet. OHora’s signature matte paintings create bright, bold visuals with adorable and expressive characters, and the witty text is a delight to read aloud. The length is perfect, and JJ and I had a blast reading it. A splendid and silly tale with a touch of heart, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

You Don’t Want A Unicorn! (Ame Dyckman)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is You Don’t Want A Unicorn!, written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Liz Climo, a delightfully silly cautionary tale about the unexpected difficulties and dangers of having a unicorn for a pet.

What are you doing at that wishing well? Oh no, don’t – oh, now you’ve gone and done it. You wished for a pet unicorn, didn’t you? That was a mistake! Unicorns may seem like cool pets, and sure, they might be fun at first (okay, okay, they’re AWESOME at first), but just you wait. Soon you’ll have to deal with all the untold frustrations of a pet unicorn: the scratching, the chewing, the jumping, the burping, and lots and LOTS of damage. And just when you think you’ve got a handle on the tricky business of unicorn ownership, get ready for when your unicorn decides he’s lonely – and conjures up some friends!

What a wonderfully silly story! Between the hilariously exasperated tone of the narrator to the colorful and absurd illustrations of the little boy and his troublesome pet, this was a bunch of fun cover to cover. I liked that they shook up the gender norm a bit and had a boy who was fanatical about unicorns (right up until the unicorn party destroys his house), and JJ and I both loved the absurdly dramatic and fun-to-read text, as well as the rainbow-rific art. The length was great, and JJ had a blast. This one will put a smile on anyone’s face, unicorn-lover or not. Baby Bookworm approved!