When I Draw A Panda (Amy June Bates)

Hello, friends! Our book today is When I Draw A Panda by Amy June Bates, a delightful tale of imagination, creativity, and expression.

A girl in white overalls and messy bun introduces herself to the reader as simply as possible: “I love to draw,” she states, gazing at a blank chalkboard wall with excitement. However, she points out that she is often encouraged to draw things “perfectly” or “the right way”. This does not appeal to the young artist, who prefers to create in her own way, such as swirling her chalk in circles until her own unique panda appears. She and the panda both enjoy drawing their own way, by giving their instruments free reign and allowing their imagination to fill in the blanks. So while their style may be a little “too crazy” for some, they don’t mind – not when their art makes them happy.

Adorable. This sweet tale reminds kids (and adults) that when it comes to art, there is no “right way” or “wrong way” to do things. This is both a nice encouragement for blossoming artists to let their creativity rule their efforts, as well as a good reminder to adults that children should be allowed to create in whatever way suits them personally. Bates’s charming illustrations and cheerfully irreverent text are a great match; the girl and her panda are both immediately lovable, and their imaginative illustrations are very entertaining; our favorite page gives a quick and fun tip for drawing dragons that we couldn’t wait to try out. The length is great for a quick storytime, and JJ loved it. A lovely ode to imagination, 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.)

Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed (Lesléa Newman)

Hello friends! Today, we read Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed, written by Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Amy June Bates. This is a charming tale, based on a true story, of a very special cat.

Moshe is a composer, and spends every day listening outside of himself, and inside of himself, to the sounds that inspire his work. One day, he is listening to the sounds of the city when he hears a small sound: a kitten, or “ketzel” in Yiddish. He brings Ketzel home and teaches him about music and composing, and so begins a surprising adventure of inspiration and creation for the two friends.

This book was so adorable and fun. The story of the composer and his cat is heartwarming, funny, and has a wonderful message about the nature and power of music and creativity. The illustrations are very sweet, and will make you want to reach through the page to cuddle the adorable kitten Ketzel. The story was really interesting, too! I had never heard of Ketzel, and it was cool to read about her in the non-fiction section at the end of the book. The only thing was that this book was a little long for a one-year-old, and JJ started getting pretty antsy towards the end. Still, older children would love this one, and so it’s Baby Bookworm approved!