Little One (Jo Weaver)

Hello, friends! Our book today was the gorgeous and touching Little One by Jo Weaver, a timeless tale about the bond between mother and child.

A mother bear wakes one spring and leaves her den, followed by a very small cub. Big Bear promises Little One that there is much to discover, and so they set out together, Big Bear teaching Little One to swim, fish, and meet their fellow creatures as the seasons pass. And as winter approaches once again, they find their den and curl up for a winter’s sleep, together as always.

What a wonderful book. The story is simple yet moving, and one that every mother and child can relate to. Gentle, mellow text is easy to read while still being entertaining. The star of the show, however, is the breathtakingly beautiful charcoal art: while in black-and-white, the sweeping nature scenes with rich detail and personality are stunning, and plenty visually interesting enough for JJ. The length is great, and simply, it was one of those books that feels so special to read to your child. We adored this one, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Splashdance (Liz Starin)

Summer Reading Day 81: Hi, everyone! Ms. J was having a tough time today with toothaches, but she was still excited to read her story, Splashdance by Liz Starin. In Splashdance, a polar bear named Ursula is practicing diligently for a water ballet with her partner, until one day she arrives to find that the pool has hung up a sign: “NO BEARS.” Her swimming partner subsequently abandons her for someone he can swim with, leaving Ursula feeling alone and abandoned, disheartened by being banned from doing what she loves. Eventually, Ursula finds that she is not alone in being banned, and she and her fellow outsiders concoct a plan to live their dream of competing in the water ballet event.

This book dealt pretty heavily with the concepts of segregation and discrimination, and it did so very well. Certain plot points relating to Ursula being banned from the pool will certainly resonate with adults, such as when the pool manager insists that he will no longer allow bears because they are too hairy while letting other, hairier animals continue to swim there. Ursula’s plight is dealt with in a way that feels realistic and organic to adults, but is simple enough conceptually for kids to understand and identify with. Furthermore, her eventual triumph with her friends shows that while you may not always be able to change the minds of hateful people, good people will always have your back.

Otherwise, the length of the book was fine for Baby Bookworm, and the illustrations were cute and simple. But to us, it was the story that really shone, particularly after the incidences of racial and gender discrimination at the 2016 Rio Olympics. And ultimately, the message is a great one for all little (and big) readers: people may try to hold you back, but never let them destroy what you love to do; just do your best and you will always win.

Zen Shorts (Jon J Muth)

Summer Reading Day 72: Our book today was Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth, a book about a panda named Stillwater who uses the lessons of zen stories to help his young neighbor friends. 

If you’ve never read any of the Stillwater stories, it might seem like a strange concept, but these books are absolutely wonderful. Stillwater uses ancient zen thought experiments (shorts) to show concepts such as forgiveness, kindness and optimism, while Stillwater himself celebrates friendship and generosity. The lessons he teaches are great for young and older minds alike, and the way Muth packages it, with gentle dialogue and sweet, muted illustrations, ensures that the stories are fun to read aloud and listen to. 

That being said, these books are a little lengthy for babies JJ’s age, and even a baby bookworm like her was starting to get antsy. Still, older bookworms will love these stories and the lessons they impart. Baby Bookworm approved! 

Good Luck Bear (Greg Foley)

Summer Reading Day 59: Our pick for today was Good Luck Bear by Greg Foley, an adorable book in both story and art. Bear is told by his friend Mouse that finding a four-leaf clover means that you are lucky, so Bear sets out to find one. He runs into many creatures who provide him with very little to no help, but he sticks with his search, and his sole helpful and supportive friend in Mouse, so that he can be a “good luck bear.”

This is a great little story, a time-old tale told in a very enjoyable way. As I mentioned, the illustrations are darling, and the colors are fun and engaging. The length is perfect for a baby bookworm, as is the way the story is written (this is a book that was MADE to be read aloud). We loved it!

Finding Winnie (Lindsay Mattick)


Summer Reading Day 44: Today’s book was Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick, the story of the real-life Winnie-The-Pooh. A lot of people know that Christopher Robin and his stuffed bear Winnie really existed, but many don’t know the story of the bear that inspired the stuffed bear that then inspired A.A. Milne’s classic tales of the Hundred Acre Wood. I certainly didn’t, but it was wonderful to read about!

The length is a bit much for a one-year-old, so definitely save for older kids or the most patient of baby bookworms, but if you do, you’ll be treated to a heartwarming and moving tale, especially for animal lovers. The illustrations are darling, and the twist ending in this one is really something. Big thumbs up from us.