Bird Hugs (Ged Adamson)

Hello, friends! The Baby Bookworm household has been down with another bug, so we’re happy to be back today with a review of the lovely Bird Hugs by Ged Adamson.

Bernard is different from the other birds. When he was a baby, he didn’t realize it; he just enjoyed playing with his friends on the ground and in the trees. When his friends began to fly, however, it became clear: Bernard’s extra-long wings – both of them many times the size of his small, round body – make flight impossible. Watching as his friends frolic through the sky, Bernard wallows in disappointment, particularly after a series of failed attempts to circumvent his impairment. But one day, he hears someone crying: an orangutan who feels inexplicable sorrow. Sympathizing, Bernard wraps his extra-long wings around his new ape friend, and is surprised to find that not only does the orangutan feel better… so does he.

Loved this. Much like one of our recent favorites, All The Ways To Be Smart by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys, this sweet story illustrates that talent and ability come in many forms, and celebrates the value of empathy and emotional aptitude. Bernard comes to find that there are many animals in need of emotional support, and both his hugs AND his talent for listening are of immense help. This earns him a jungle full of new friends, including a few who adorably help him in return in the final spread. This focus on how being different is often a strength in and of itself is a wonderfully welcome and heartwarming message, bolstered by Adamson’s adorable, emotional illustrations and clever yet tender text. The length is perfect, and JJ and I both adored it. A warm hug of a tale, and it’s 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.)

Fly! (Mark Teague)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the delightful Fly! by Mark Teague, a wordless tale of a baby bird learning to leave the nest.

In a cozy nest perched in a tree, a baby robin grows from a pink, featherless hatchling to a robust fledgling as its father dutifully feeds it worms. When the time comes for the little birdy to spread its wings, the father encourages his little one to try hopping out onto the tree’s branch. Frustrated, the chick does so… only to tumble to the ground below. Winging down to his child, the father notes that the little bird must fly up on their own, as he cannot carry them. And so begins a hilarious negotiation between parent and child of the merits of learning this new (and maybe, possibly, a little bit daunting) skill.

Wonderful! I have to admit, I’m not always the biggest fan of wordless picture books, as they can often feel like less of a shared experience with JJ (mostly due to my own lack of narrative capabilities). Yet this one was filled with such a tight narrative, so much good humor, and so many clever tweaks to the genre that is was a blast to make up our own dialogue. Much of this is due to Teague’s brilliant use of “speech bubbles” that do not display text, but instead smaller pictures that imagine what the characters might be saying. These, combined with the brilliantly-illustrated expressions, convey a clear tone and motivation for each character, providing a structure for their imagined dialogue. Especially funny are the chick’s proposed alternate modes of transportation, such as a sports car, a plane, and a hot air balloon, to name a few. There’s also something nice about the depiction of a single-parent relationship of father and child, a much rarer occurrence in picture books (though it is quite subtle, and those unfamiliar with the gendered markings of robins might be inclined to see the adult bird as a mother). The length is great, and JJ had lots of giggles for the robins’ antics. A fun read for any age, and we recommend 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.)

Bluebird (Lindsey Yankey)

Hello, friends! Our review today is Bluebird by Lindsey Yankey, a beautifully illustrated tale of a plucky little bird searching for her missing friend.

Bluebird wakes up one morning to a beautiful sunny day, but something about it feels wrong. All at once, she realizes what’s missing: her very good friend, the wind, is not there! This makes Bluebird nervous, because she’s never flown without the wind to hold her up. Still, she gathers her courage and goes in search of her friend through the park, then the city, flying higher and higher on her own as her confidence grows. Still, there is no sign of the wind. Will Bluebird ever find her faithful friend?

This one was lovely. The story was gentle and sweet, with a hint of a lesson (having confidence in your abilities), but focusing mostly on the bluebird’s search for the wind in trees, scarves, kites, newspapers, and other places it tends to make itself known. The mixed-media art is the star of the show here, using papercraft and some gorgeously illustrated characters to build a delicate and lovingly crafted city with a soothing spare palette. The length was fine, and JJ loved the vibrant little bluebird. This was a very pretty book with a quietly charming story, and we enjoyed it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Flight School (Lita Judge)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is the adorable Flight School by Lita Judge, a wonderful story about a plucky little penguin with a dream: to fly.

When Flight School begins its new semester, the teachers find themselves with a rather unorthodox student: a penguin! They gently inform the little chick that while they would love to teach him, penguins aren’t meant to fly. The little penguin is insistent, however, that he has the soul of an eagle, and that he can and will soar among the clouds. He works hard, studying along with his classmates, despite not being able to keep up with them physically. At last, all the Flight School students are cleared for flight… except for penguin. Dejected, he accepts his limitations and begins to leave – until Flamingo suddenly has an idea that might help the determined little penguin make his dreams a reality.

LOVED this one. It’s a touchingly sweet story about how physical attributes should never deter you from your dreams, and serves as a powerful metaphor for differently-abled people not letting their bodies determine their fate. It also encourages others not to dismiss a person’s dreams based on physicality: Penguin’s teachers are the ones who build him a set of wings from their own feathers, then help him to stay up in the air. It’s a lovely message that encourages us to believe in the dreams of others and help them where we can. The illustrations are absolutely darling, and the length is great. JJ and I both loved this story about a community coming together to make a dream come true, and it’s definitely Baby Bookworm approved.

The Blue Songbird (Vern Kousky)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is The Blue Songbird by Vern Kousky, a wonderfully touching story about learning how to find yourself.

A little songbird wakes up every morning to the beautiful songs of her sisters. She wishes her song could be as sweet, but she can’t seem to find the right notes. Her mother encourages her, though, telling her that she must find the song that is hers alone, and she must have the courage to seek it out. So the songbird leaves home for the first time, flying across land and oceans to find her song. She asks all the birds along the way for guidance: a helpful crane, a seemingly wise owl, even snowbound penguins. She sees snow-capped mountains and desert plains, flying around the entire world on her quest. At last, a clever crow points her in the direction of a golden island where her song can be found. But when the little songbird arrives, she finds the island is, in fact, her home. Disappointed, she wings toward her family. As she opens her beak to tell them of her adventures, she finds that what comes out aren’t words, but her own special song, singing of the incredible journey she’s taken… and the sweetness of returning home.

I LOVED this one. The metaphor of finding oneself in travel and experience, and the message that home will be there for you when you return, is beautifully woven into a story that stresses the values of courage, self-relience, and family. I loved that the ultimate message was that who we are is made equally of where we come from AND what we choose to be. The art is lovely, using muted colors and simple lines to create a world of possibilities for the little bird. The length is perfect, and JJ adored it. This is a timeless story told in beautiful style, and it’s emphatically Baby Bookworm approved!