A Little Chicken (Tammi Sauer)

Hello, friends! Our book today is A Little Chicken, written by Tammi Sauer and illustrated by Dan Taylor, a sweet look at what it means to be brave.

Dot is a little chicken who is, well… a little chicken. She’s scared of lots of things, like bears and wolves and creepy lawn gnomes. She’s tried to be brave, but the courageous spirit just seems to elude her. That is until the day that one of her soon-to-be siblings (in egg form) rolls out of the coop and toward the deep dark woods. Dot responds on instinct alone, chasing after the egg over hill and dale, and rushing right past everything that scares her to save the day. With a new little sister to spend time with, Dot finds that she’s still a little bit chicken, but that doesn’t make her any less a hero.

Cute! With brightly-colored, dynamic illustrations and simple yet engaging story, Dot’s tale does a great job of distinguishing for children the difference between being brave and being fearless. By the end, Dot is no less frightened of her phobias (and honestly, I’m with her on the lawn gnomes), but she knows that when push comes to shove, she has it in her to be brave, and that’s enough. It’s a good way of showing that it’s okay to be scared – it’s how we deal with our fear that defines us. Yet the story is still brisk, light, and fun to read, chock full of onomatopoeia and a good sense of humor. The length is great, and JJ loved 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.)

Brave Enough For Two (Jonathan D. Voss)

Help, friends! Our book today is Brave Enough For Two by Jonathan D. Voss, a tale of friendship between a girl and her stuffed owl.

Olive and Hoot have been best of friends forever, even if their interests occasionally differ. For instance, Olive prefers the adventures found in books, while Hoot yearns for something more. One day, Hoot encourages her to join him on an adventure and, while she has some safety concerns, Olive agrees. First they fly high in the air in a balloon-powered basket, then a boat trip down a fast-moving current, both making Olive nervous. Each time, Hoot guarantees their safety and promises that, as long as they are together, they will be okay. But as the day winds to an end, the pair realize they are lost and far from home, and Hoot has torn a hole and lost some stuffing. Suddenly, Hoot doesn’t feel so brave. Seeing her friend’s fear, Olive realizes that courage isn’t just being fearless…

This is a soft and gentle friendship story with a nice lesson in courage. While I feel like Hoot could have been more considerate of Olive’s fears and concerns, I did like the lesson that bravery and recklessness are not the same thing – Hoot is quite bold, and good to encourage his friend to be brave as well, but he is also quite foolhardy. Olive, however, finds her bravery when others need her, showing a level head and a comforting presence when crisis strikes. It’s a subtle way of showing little ones the different types of bravery, and I liked it. The art is simply gorgeous, weaving charming windswept characters into open-skied rural landscapes that evoke a nostalgic sense of childhood wanderings. The length is fine, and JJ enjoyed Olive and her little owl friend. A quiet tale of courage and friendship, and 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.)

Yellow Kayak (Nina Laden & Melissa Castrillon)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Yellow Kayak by Nina Laden and Melissa Castrillon, a lovely fable about having courage through the storm.

A child and a giraffe set out from their small island in a tiny wooden kayak, expecting a day of adventure. As they get further out to sea, however, the adventure soon becomes more than they had bargained for: the sky grows dark, the wind whips up, and the seas become rocky. Their paddle and the child’s hat are swept away, and when the wind dies down, they are left stranded in the open sea. Still, they have each other, and they share the comfort of their company and the wonder of the starry sky through the night. The next day, the helpers begin to arrive – sea creatures bring back the lost items and help to guide them home.

Hopeful and sweet. While the rhyming text is subtle and spare – using only a few words per page to convey plot and set mood – it combines beautifully with the rich, detailed illustrations to tell a compelling story about courage and perseverance. The whole story itself reads as an allegory for surviving disaster, either literal or metaphorical – when the storm becomes frightening, the seafarers stay calm and keep their heads; when they are feeling lost and unsure of what to do next, they take care of each other and find hope in simple blessings; and at last, they use a combination of the help offered to them and their own persistence to find their way. It’s a powerful metaphor told in a gentle, comforting style, and we loved it. The length is just fine, and JJ loved the beautiful art, so this one is definitely Baby Bookworm approved!

Be Brave Little One (Marianne Richmond)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Be Brave Little One by Marianne Richmond, a very sweet book of encouragement for the smallest bookworms.

Be brave little one! It’s a very big world out there, with lots to do and see and experience. So be brave: have the courage to explore, to invent, to create. Have the courage to try new things, and to step away from them if they’re not for you. Have to courage to dream whatever possible futures for yourself you desire, and to chase those dreams and make them real. You have it in you, I know you do. So find that courage and wear it proudly, and be brave.

Very sweet. It’s a simple sentiment and a fundamental lesson for young readers, and Richmond does a great job of mixing the classic themes and art style with a modern sensibility. Endearing pen-and-watercolor drawings show children of different ethnicities, colors and genders and trying, doing, and achieving, showing that our differences do not define our potential. The rhyme flows well and uses clear, uplifting language to inspire little bookworms. The length is great, and JJ enjoyed it, so we can call this one Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Singing Away The Dark (Caroline Woodward)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the quietly enchanting Singing Away The Dark, written by Caroline Woodward and illustrated by Julie Morstad, the story of a little girl’s trick for finding courage in the darkness.

What if you really did have to walk a mile through the snow on your way to school? This little girl does, and once her mother has packed her lunch and bundled her up, she sets out into the dark countryside on her way to the bus stop. The winter woods are cold, and can sometimes be scary, especially before the sun comes up. But our heroine has a trick to help her find her courage: she sings. Her songs keep the shadows at bay, and bring light to the darkened woods as the sun comes up to hear her tune. It’s a small thing, but it brings her courage for the cold morning, and gives her power over the fading night.

Absolutely lovely. Inspired by the author’s childhood (remember a time that children were allowed to walk through the dark to their bus stop alone?), playing off the old “two miles in the snow, uphill both ways” gag, yet also deeply symbolic, there are so many meaningful layers to this simple yet striking story. The text is a joy to read, with a subtle, soothing rhyme scheme that brings the reader into the imagination of a child. The art is stunning, creating a frozen atmosphere so rich that you could swear you feel the chilly wind and hear the crunch of snow. The length is perfect, and JJ and I both loved it. A beautiful winter tale of courage and inner strength, and 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.)