Operation Photobomb (Tara Luebbe & Becky Cattie)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Operation Photobomb, written by Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie, and illustrated by Matthew Rivera, a clever tale of consideration.

Whenever a tour group comes through Chameleon and Monkey’s neck of the jungle, it means one thing: new toys! Monkey is especially taken with his find, a Polaroid camera (lifted from an unsuspecting tourist’s backpack). He quickly develops his skill and passion for photography, taking pictures of all his jungle friends – the colorful birds, the powerful big cats, the Capybaras’ family portrait, baby Sloth’s newborn portrait, Grandpa Macaw’s 75th birthday party, etc. But Chameleon, feeling left out, has discovered a new hobby of his own – photobombing! Jumping in and stealing focus from everyone’s photo last minute is a great amusement to him, but makes his friends increasingly angry. How can the other animals show Chameleon how inconsiderate his actions are?

What a clever little tale! Using a classic “taste of one’s own medicine” story of considering others’ feelings, the authors deftly weave in both a modern theme and some adorable animal antics. The localized wildlife of a specific habitat – a South American rainforest – provides an additional educational opportunity. The story is just right in tone and pacing, and the ending is a delightful twist that brings things full circle. Rivera’s charming illustrations are colorful and energetic, and little ones will have fun searching for Chameleon throughout the photos, as well as his silent tree frog pal throughout the story itself. JJ and I both had a blast with this one, and we highly recommend 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.)

I Used To Be Famous (Becky Cattie & Tara Luebbe)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Used To Be Famous, written by Becky Cattie and Tara Luebbe and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, a follow-up to last year’s I Am Famous.

Kiely – the precocious, performing girl of the first book – is back, and still the center of attention. She has practically everything one might expect from a triple-threat celebrity in the spotlight: a personal shopper (her mom), a dazzling biography (her baby book), and paparazzi following her every move… well, she used to! Suddenly there’s a new star in town: new baby sister Abby, who despite not being able to sing or dance or act (and sort of smelling like poop), effortlessly commands the room. Kiely tries to wrestle the spotlight back to herself, but to no avail. She finally admits to defeat to Abby, but finds that her little sister may just be the loyal fan, performing partner, and perhaps even best friend she’s been looking for.

Very cute! Beginning by reestablishing the tongue-in-cheek humor of the first book, the author pair does a great job of continuing the story of Kiely while also allowing new readers to immediately engage with this boisterous and confident young girl. From there, we get a solid tale of becoming a big sibling through her eyes. It hits the familiar beats of a “new baby” book, but in a uniquely “Kiely” way, moving from jealousy to acceptance, to a growing bond of sisterhood, all with a focus on performing and their humorous “diva” status. Lee-Vriethoff’s art is as charming and endearing as ever, filling Kiely and Abby with loads of personality and emotion. The length is perfect, and JJ has a lot of fun with it. A great new baby book for the household diva, and 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.)

I Am Famous (Tara Luebbe & Becky Cattie)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Am Famous, written by Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, a tale of a precocious young starlet and her life of glitz and glamour.

Kiely has been famous all her life. She’s a singer, and actress AND a dancer, plus a style icon and social media star. The paparazzi – also known as her parents – follow her everywhere, always there to capture her latest forays into fabulousity. But when a performance at her grandparents’ party has a few hiccups, will Kiely ever be able to recover her iconic reputation? Or do her fans/family simply love her for being who she is?

There were things about this that I really liked: I enjoyed most of Kiely’s narrative, mostly her unapologetically flaunting what makes her feel special – especially since she is a young black girl with confidence and self-esteem. The art is great as well, using bright colors and dramatic gestures and expressions to play up Kiely’s diva side. However, there were a few cringeworthy moments: her father cowering before her with an offering as she frowns in disapproval, a drawing of her shoving her mother in the face during a tantrum, depictions of her parents filming her with cell phones both in the bathtub and on a training potty, the letter being shared on social media. All three are played for comedy, but the implications are odd. We’re in an age in which children do become “stars” of social media, even to the public at large, but this raises the question of what impact this has on them, and what is and isn’t suitable to share. And while I’m obviously not against sharing my child on social media, there were a few moments in the story that gave me pause on whether Kiely or her parents were behaving appropriately. It’s a judgement call, so I’m calling this one Baby Bookworm approved – with an asterisk.

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