How Are You? (Édouard Manceau)

Hello, friends! Our book today is How Are You? by Édouard Manceau, a short and simple story about expressing emotions.

We are often asked the question. “How are you?”, and we all know that the answer usually depends on the day. Maybe we’re happy, or maybe we’re very happy! Or maybe we’re sad, or so sad that we cry, or even feeling empty. Sometimes we are full of anger and frustration! The truth is, our emotions can change day to day, or even over the course of a day. Yet no matter what, it’s okay to let those feelings out.

Minimalist yet affirming. Manceau’s board book is about as bare bones as a title can get, both in narrative and art. Set against a background of black, readers follow the narrator through a series of the emotions that they could conceivably be feeling, accompanied by a illustration that uses simplified facial expressions and changes in color to express them. Yet for a pre-reader book, these elements are ideal: the recognizable face shapes, the minimalistic color palette, and the easy-to-read text all provide a basic lesson in a few big and small emotions, most notably that even when they can be overwhelming, sometimes a cry and a nap can help a little one feel back on track. It’s a healthy message for the earliest of bookworms, wrapped in a cute and accessible package. The length is best for pre- and early readers, and JJ and I both enjoyed it. Overall, a great way to learn about some early emotions, and we recommend it – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

This Little Wonder: A No-Limits Primer & This Little Engineer: A Think-and-Do Primer (Joan Holub & Daniel Roode)

Hello, friends! Our books today are This Little Wonder: A No-Limits Primer and This Little Engineer: A Think-and-Do Primer by Joan Holub and Daniel Roode, the latest in the pair’s board book series on inspiring figures.

In each book, readers are introduced to ten notable names of the past and present with a short rhyme on a two-sentence blurb. In This Little Wonder, the subjects are luminaries of science, art, athletics, etc. who have physical or developmental disabilities, such as Helen Keller, Temple Grandin, and Claudia Gordon. In This Little Engineer, the focus is engineers, most of them women of color, and the diverse impacts that their work can have on the world. Both feature even more mini-bios of diverse figures on the last page to inspire aspiration and imagination.

Wonderful. We’ve been a big fan of this series for a while now, and these titles are welcome additions, especially for a young, female, special-needs reader with an interest in science. I was particularly happy to see such a great blend of familiar names with more obscure ones; I enjoyed learning about people like Marian Croak, Sangeeta Bhatia, and Chris Downey alongside their better-known counterparts. The colorful artwork is simple, yet does a good job of illustrating each figure’s unique background in a visually-engaging way. My only complaint is the use of the title “Wonder” to describe those with disabilities, which carries an unfortunately associative tone of spectatorship and superiority, even if that is not the intention. But other than that, both books are quick and enjoyable reads that spotlight encouraging true stories, and we recommend them. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: Copies of these books were provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Rainbow of Emotions, Big Emotions, & Facing Fears (Elena Ulyeva)

Hello, friends! Our books today are Rainbow of Emotions, Big Emotions, and Facing Fears, written by Elena Ulyeva and illustrated by Olga Agafonova (Olka Illustration), the first three books in the Clever Emotions board book series.

Cam the chameleon, like everyone, feels lots of different emotions, yet Cam is unique in that he literally wears his feelings on his face; his scales change to a specific color depending on the emotion he is currently feeling (yellow for happy, purple for embarrassed, white for scared, etc). In each book, Cam is faced with a different dilemma – looking for a playmate, finding his mom, and being confronted with xenophobia – and navigates through his full range of emotions before reaching a conclusion. After the plot is wrapped up, the final page encourages readers to think about how they deal with their own emotions.

Repetitive and uninspired. While the general concept of color-coding emotions is always helpful for very young readers, it’s a pretty common trope that has been done elsewhere (and honestly, better). These books suffer most in their lackluster stories, which are carbon copies of each other, and are filled with wildly shifting tones and unresolved conflicts. They also only offer lessons in emotional regulation on the last page of two books (though these tips are truly beneficial, especially the emphasis on sharing problems with trusted adults). On the bright side, the artwork is consistently charming, though not terrifically memorable. JJ was a little disappointed with these, especially as she had been excited by the concept; she tired of Cam’s exploits halfway through Facing Fears (which, incidentally, is the title that offers no lessons in emotional regulation). All in all, there are just too many fantastic pictures books about emotional intelligence that it’s hard to strongly recommend these. Worth a glance, but unlikely to grab the reader.

(Note: Copies of these books were provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Britannica’s Baby Encyclopedia (Sally Symes)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Britannica’s Baby Encyclopedia, written by Sally Symes and illustrated by Hanako Clulow, a delightful compendium of basic knowledge for brand new humans.

There’s a lot to learn about the world we live in – where does a person start? Encyclopedias have always been a great source of information for curious minds, and in that tradition, this baby encyclopedia provided an array of knowledge about human life to the smallest of bookworms, from how our bodies work to numbers and shapes to the foods we eat. Over the course of eight chapters, babies and toddlers can learn the basics of human knowledge in engaging and fun ways.

Marvelous! Symes and Clulow, joined by child development expert Dr. Amanda Gummer and a plethora of subject matter experts, create a fabulous compendium of early-learning topics in this board book encyclopedia for the tiniest readers. The text reads both like a story and an encyclopedia entry, allowing for quick reference, or lengthier perusal and read-alouds. Each chapter is expertly constructed to cover topics like weather, pets, the senses, or vehicles in ways that are mentally stimulating, both visually and narratively. Clulow’s diverse, colorful, and stylish illustrations catch the eye but never overwhelm, and liberal use of onomatopoeia throughout add excitement, as well as an additional way for young children to connect with the material. The length is great, JJ enjoyed it, and we highly recommend it; we can easily see this becoming a must-buy for new babies. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

I Want That! (Hannah Eliot)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Want That!, written by Hannah Eliot and illustrated by Ana Sanfelippo, a delightful twist on turn-the-wheel board books that lets little readers choose their own adventure.

Babies want lots of things! Food when they’re hungry, hats for their heads, and toys for playtime (or the bathtub)! In this board book, a collection of little tykes are on a quest for the things that they want, and it’s up to the reader to decide what it is they’re looking for. Which each scenario, the reader is given a wheel of options to give to baby, after which they get to see baby’s reaction to their choice on the next page. Lastly, after a long day eating, playing, and disposing of stinky stuff, it’s bedtime for babies.

Unique and fun! This one revolves around the extremely clever design of the option wheels, which allow little ones to experience how the story is directly affected by their choices. It’s engaging and unique, and makes the title exciting to reread. JJ, for instance, had a marvelous time picking out each hat for one toddler, then flipping the page to see how it looked on the baby’s head. Eliot’s text is simple and easy to read aloud, and Sanfelippo’s bright and cheerful illustrations are charming while also incorporating a diverse representation of skintones. The length is perfect for a quick read, and we enjoyed it immensely. Definitely pick this one up for your youngest bookworms – 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.)