The Monsters on the Broom (Annemarie Riley Guertin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Monsters on the Broom, written by Annemarie Riley Guertin and illustrated by Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn, a cute, melodic, Halloween-themed board book.

It’s Halloween night, and monsters are afoot! Metered to the classic rhythm of “Wheels on the Bus,” little readers can cackle, howl, and groan along with witches, werewolves, and mummies as they fly past on an enchanted broom.

Basic but fun. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking here – simple lyrics twist a familiar nursery rhyme with spooky (but not scary) festive friends. There’s some cutouts on the top edge of the pages that give this board book a little personality, but no interactive elements, or really even a plot line. However, with some colorful and cute characters and a widely accessible concept, it’s not without its charms. The length is fine for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed it. As far as Halloween board book fare goes, this is a fine choice – perhaps not destined to be an annual classic, but certainly a quick and fun way to celebrate. Overall, Baby Bookworm approved.

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

ABC, Rise Up and Be! (Annemarie Riley Guertin & Sandie Sonke)

Hello, friends! Our book today is ABC, Rise Up and Be! by Annemarie Riley Guertin and Sandie Sonke, an inspirational alphabet book full of encouragement for little bookworms.

Opening on a playground full of youngsters, the reader follows as the diverse cast of kids are encouraged – by the text and by illustrated versions of famous role models from history – to adopt various virtues, listed in alphabetical order. Short affirmations accompany each of the twenty-six aspirational attributes, from “Accepting” to “Zestful”, with the final reminder that the most important thing to be is to simply be oneself.

Lots of style, less substance. This quick read is certainly beautiful to look at: the bright and cheery colors, eye-catching font, and folk-inspired artwork is very cute, featuring a diverse cast of central characters and sweet-faced versions of the historical figures meant to represent each of the alphabetical virtues. However, the affirmations that accompany them are mostly feel-good platitudes, momentarily heartwarming but fairly forgettable. And while the historical figures are noted by name and mini-bio in the front- and end-papers, it would have been far more edifying to have this information on the page where the person appeared; we ended up spending a lot of time flipping back and forth to identify luminaries who were not immediately recognizable in illustrated form. Otherwise, the length was fine, and JJ really did enjoy the artwork. So while it felt slightly lacking in emotional impact for an empowerment book, it’s worth a look for lovely illustrations, and we’re calling it Baby Bookworm approved.

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