Hello Hello (Brendan Wenzel)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel, a delightful look at wild animals, and all that our furry, finned, and feathered friends have in common.

Using a tremendously clever visual device in which each animal shares something in common with the one on either side of it, we are taken through a wild tour of the animal kingdom and the many unique creatures that are found within it. It could be something small – a similarly-shaped yet distinctive nose, a shared pattern, or a familiar physical frame – but with each of these little details we can see how a giant whale shark can be connected to a tiny chameleon, and everything in between. And at the end, it’s shown that we’re part of this chain, too, and we should do our best to protect the wonderful diversity of life we are connected to.

We adored Wenzel previous book, They All Saw A Cat, because it encouraged readers to consider things from perspectives different from our own, and that sentiment dovetails beautifully into the theme here: looking at the similarities that seemingly disparate creatures can have that connect them. It’s a great theme in nature and in life, and folds in nicely to Wenzel’s personal message of conservation in the afterword. The text is minimal yet effective, and fun to read aloud, but the art is the star of the show, with each of the dozens of animals given a distinct look and character through design and expression. And animal-loving JJ went BONKERS for this one, asking to read through it several times after the first go. A fantastic glossary is included in the back to learn each of the animals’ species, the length is great, and we had a blast with it. The perfect read for any aspiring zoologist, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Life (Cynthia Rylant & Brendan Wenzel)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Life by Cynthia Rylant and Brendan Wenzel, a vivid and stunning meditation on life and what makes it so magnificent.

Life begins small: a sprouting plant, a baby elephant. Everything begins as something smaller, and then? It grows. As days and nights pass, it becomes larger, and different, and more incredible than the day before. Life comes in many forms, from the smallest insect to the biggest whale. And if you ask each animal what they love about life, they will answer differently: a hawk loves the wind, a snake loves the grass, the ancient turtle loves the rain on its shell. But life is hard sometimes, and there can even be times when it’s hard to find the beauty in it. But we must push through, because the morning will bring something new, something unique, something incredible – because life is beautiful, and so are you.

Simply phenomenal. Rylant and Wenzel have crafted something absolutely astonishing in its simple grace and powerful message. At the start, the story is a look at the animal kingdom through a different angle, and the detailed and eye-catching mixed media art sweeps the reader on this journey in a striking style. Then halfway through, the tone shifts, becoming a story about overcoming hardships and finding hope in troubling times. It encourages the reader that the dark and scary times will end, and that life is worth seeing and loving and experiencing. It’s an unexpected and deeply moving sentiment, especially for anyone who is experiencing or has experienced grief or depression. And with suicides and self-harm among young children on the rise, it’s a message that all young readers should hear as much as possible. The length is great, JJ loved the animals, and just… wow. This is a must-read, and we strongly recommend it to anyone who needs a reminder to find hope in the storm. Baby Bookworm approved!

They All Saw A Cat (Brendan Wenzel)

Hello, friends! Today, we read They All Saw A Cat by Brendan Wenzel, a unique and wonderful book about perspective.

A cat goes about his day, encountering different creatures as he does, and each thing he meets sees cat in a different way: dog sees lots of sharp angles and a large, loud bell around his neck, fish sees blurry features and two large eyes through the water, bird sees him from above, worm feels his vibrations, etc. But they all saw the same thing: they all saw a cat.

This was such a cool book! The illustrations are killer, and the narrative is simple and fun to read, but what I loved most is how deftly it introduces the idea of perspective to children: several animals, or people, can look at something while having drastically different viewpoints based on their experiences, intentions, or perceptions. It’s a great lesson for kids to learn, and this book covers the concept perfectly. The length is great for baby bookworms, and JJ loved it. Definitely Baby Bookworm approved!