Into the Sand Castle: A Lift-the-Flap Book (Cindy Jin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Into the Sand Castle: A Lift-the-Flap Book, written by Cindy Jin and illustrated by Allison Black, an interactive board book that explores an undersea palace and its surprising inhabitants.

In a sea floor sand castle, complete with towering turrets and plenty of doors to explore, there lives a number of oceanic residents. From a friendly shark to grumpy king crab to an artistic octopus, little bookworms can have fun meeting some entertaining critters… and maybe even a magical surprise guest!

Underwater fun. Utilizing a creative cutout design and some absolutely adorable illustrations by Black, this board book takes a pretty basic premise and adds some colorful and engaging flair. The rhyming text is pretty simple to read, and even if the meter is a little inconsistent, the guessing game of who hides behind the lift-a-flap doors – and which door they’re hiding behind, as each spread features 2-3 flaps – is genuinely fun. Plus, I loved that the shark was characterized as “friendly” – anyone who knows about sharks know that they are usually painted as villains, which is pretty unfair for such an at-risk family of species. The length is perfect for the youngest of bookworms, and JJ really enjoyed the bright, colorful artwork and the multitude of interactive elements. Overall, this could be a fun one to kick off the summer, and we liked 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.)

Bloom (Ruth Forman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Bloom, written by Ruth Forman and illustrated by Talia Skyles, a sweet board book about black girl beauty.

Just like each flower, each female-presenting black child in this garden blooms. No matter their skintone, hair type, hair color, or style, each girl is beautiful. And just like the flowers, they each have their own way of blooming, yet no way is better or more beautiful than the others. After all, the best gardens are filled with flowers of all different shapes and shades. And so, each little difference makes the whole more beautiful, and each unique flower is its own masterpiece.

Lovely. Historically and currently, young black and brown bookworms are inundated by beauty ideals that can be detrimental to their sense of self. Forman and Skyles take these notions and turn them on their head, using simple text and lush illustrations to draw a parallel between diversity in beauty – specifically pertaining to black bodies – and the varied flowers of a springtime garden. It’s a visual metaphor that works extremely well, especially with the inclusion of attributes that are often considered “undesirable,” such as glasses or natural red hair. I wish very much that some of the girls had represented different body types, disabilities, or other presentations of physical diversity (vitiligo, for instance), but this is a great start at assuring young readers that their natural features are unequivocally beautiful. The length is great for a quick read, and JJ enjoyed it very much. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Little Seed (Benson Shum)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Little Seed by Benson Shum, a sweet board book about sharing snuggles.

Every morning, Little Seed wakes to a great big hug from Mama Earth. While Little Seed loves hugs and wants to hug the whole world, they lament that their arms are too small for such a task. Mama Earth reassures them that while Little Seed’s arms are small, their heart is big. Seeing friends in need of comfort, Little Seed heads out to give hugs, always being respectful of what kind of hugs his friends enjoy. At last, they settle in with Mama Earth again, and she asks how Little Seed will hug tomorrow. “With all my heart”, they reply.

Adorable and considerate. Little Seed’s hugging partners – mostly baby animals just as adorable as they are – present precious riddles, like how one should hug a panda, for instance. Each solution is fun and endearingly illustrated, and the characters of Little Seed and the dark-skinned, flora-winged Mama Earth are particularly lovely. I especially loved that Little Seed’s hugs varied to respect his friends’ preferences, such as slowly and gently hugging timid Lion Cub or forgoing a hug entirely and respecting Armadillo’s space. This sets a great example for young bookworms on bodily autonomy, both in open expression of one’s comfort with touch and being respectful of others’ touch preferences. The length is perfect for a quick storytime, and JJ really enjoyed this one. A great little board book with a lot of a heart and some great lessons, and we highly 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.)

What’s Inside the Easter Egg?: A Lift-the-Flap Book (Cindy Jin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is What’s Inside the Easter Egg?: A Lift-the-Flap Book, written by Cindy Jin and illustrated by Fiona Dulieu, an interactive Easter board book of baby animals.

On each page, little bookworms are presented with a colorful Easter egg and a rhyming riddle – can you guess who’s inside? Is it a puppy, a kitten, a duckling, or a chick? Or, is it everyone’s favorite fluffy Eaater ambassador, the Easter Bunny? The only way to find out is to lift the flap!

Lots of fun. This is a pretty simple book conceptually, and pulls off its themes very well. Each riddle gives clues as to the appearance of the baby animal being teased as well as a clue about the sound they make, so readers learning their animals will be able to play along and make guesses before the flaps – which are all in the shape of large Easter eggs decorated to give further clues about the animal inside – are lifted. The rhyme scheme isn’t particularly intuitive on the initial read-through, but is easy to get used to after the first few pages. Dulieu’s soft-edged and brightly-colored illustrations are wonderfully adorable and capture the spring seasonal theme perfectly. This is a short read for the very smallest bookworms, and JJ – a big fan of lift-the-flaps – really enjoyed this one. Overall, a sweet Easter treat that any little bookworms can enjoy. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

One Busy Bunny (Robie Rogge)

Hello, friends! Our book today is One Busy Bunny, written by Robie Rogge and illustrated by August Ro, a short novelty board book about a very busy little bunny.

Busy Bunny’s got one very important job to do today: to take a basket of eggs and distribute them to all of their friends. Bunny makes sure to give eggs to their friends at the pond, in the garden, and in the woods. And after a long and exhausting day, and with an empty basket in tow, Busy Bunny gets a special surprise all their own!

Short and sweet. The content of the story itself only takes place in five couplets spaced over ten pages, so this is a very quick read. The story is similarly light and airy, mostly just identifying the adorable animals that make up Bunny’s delivery route as they smile happily over their Easter eggs. This combined with the novelty of the bunny rabbit-shaped binding makes it best for very young audiences (though the light cardboard of the pages themselves may have trouble holding up to the rough treatment of baby bookworms). Ro’s soft and lovely illustrations are beautiful to look at (to the point that I wished they were a little larger!), and Rogge’s text is bouncy and fun to read aloud. Overall, this is a fun novelty title that doesn’t exactly reach for the stars, but offers plenty of enjoyment for the youngest of readers and their caregivers. Length was great for the earliest ages, and JJ really enjoyed the unique bunny rabbit binding. 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.)