I Got You A Present! (Mike Erskine-Kellie)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Got You A Present!, written by Mike Erskine-Kellie and Susan McLennan, illustrated by Cale Atkinson.

Happy birthday! There’s a party all ready for you, complete with cake, a gathering of adorable animal friends, and of course, PRESENTS! Your eager friend Duck explains that he wanted to get you the greatest present ever, something that strikes the perfect balance of amazing, unexpected, and something you’ll love. However, with every attempt at the perfect gift, he hits a bump: knitting socks? Very tricky. Inventing an apple juice-fueled jet pack? He’s still working out the kinks. A pet dinosaur? Surprisingly difficult to find. After a plethora of attempts at the perfect gift for you, the poor duck is stymied – until he thinks of a gift that’s just the ticket.

Delightful! This simple, silly, and creatively meta tale is an unexpected treat. Duck eventually decides that the story of his search for a present is the perfect present itself, and “gifts” the reader a physical copy in the penultimate spread (the cover a duplicate of the very book the reader is currently holding). This clever twist and the ridiculous antics of the Duck that precede it are full of light, playful visual gags, accompanied by conversational, matter-of-fact text that is fun to read aloud. The length is perfect for a quick storytime, and JJ really enjoyed the comedy, a repeating set up-then-punchline structure that gets funnier as the gifts escalate in preposterousness. This one is ready-made for birthdays, and would make a fantastic gift for any little reader. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Where Oliver Fits (Cale Atkinson)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Where Oliver Fits by Cale Atkinson, a fantastic story of finding where you fit without compromising who you are.

Oliver is a puzzle piece, and like all puzzle pieces, he’s excited to find where he fits. He certainly hopes he’ll be a part of a super-awesome, exciting puzzle, but when he tries to fit into all the cool puzzles, they reject him. “Not enough red!” they say, or “too round, not square enough”. Oliver is sad, so he comes up with an idea: he will change the way he looks and is shaped so that he can fit in. But no matter what, he still stands out from the rest of the pieces, and they tease him away. Finally, in desperation, Oliver changes absolutely everything about himself, and finally finds an amazing puzzle to fit into. But when he sees his fellow pieces teasing other different-looking pieces, Oliver takes a hard look at himself and wonders: if he has to change everything about who he is to fit in, is it even still him anymore?

Fantastic. Using the wonderful puzzle piece metaphor, Atkinson teaches a valuable lesson in when the price of “fitting in” becomes a burden. It’s a story that assures readers that changing who you are to be part of the cool kids is ultimately quite empty, and may even limit your opportunities for finding your people. The last page is especially meaningful, reminding children that to make a complete, beautiful puzzle, every piece is important, including you – a poignant metaphor for “it gets better”. The art is wonderful, full of bright colors and fun visuals that kept JJ fascinated throughout. It’s a great length, and a vital reminder for little ones that, while it may take time, they WILL find where they feel – and make others feel – complete. Baby Bookworm approved!

Maxwell The Monkey Barber (Cale Atkinson)

Hello, friends! Today’s review is Maxwell The Monkey Barber by Cale Atkinson, a delightful story about a helpful hairstylist who keeps the beasts of the jungle neatly coiffed.

Every day, Maxwell the monkey barber opens his little shop, and the customers roll in right away. Up today: a baboon whose out-of-control hairdo has ensnared all manner of critters, large and small; a lion whose scraggly mane is in dire need of a makeover; and a bear whose burly beard is now brushing the ground. After Max fixes up each head of hair, he sends his customers off with a smile and an assurance that their hair is the best he’s seen that day. But at the end of one day, a sad elephant comes to call: he doesn’t have any hair, and his head gets quite cold. This might be Maxwell’s toughest challenge yet: how can he give the elephant the ‘do of his dreams without a single hair to work with?

Absolutely charming! Maxwell’s story is simply adorable: sweet, funny, cheerful, and with just the right amount of fluff. Maxwell’s solution of using his customers’ hair to create wigs for those who need them shows kindness and compassion, and is reminiscent of charities who do the same for cancer and burn patients, making this a great way to teach kids about donating hair. The illustrations are darling, using bright colors and wonderfully expressive characters to capture readers’ attention and imagination. The length is great, and JJ and I both loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Night Night, Groot (Brendan Deneen)


Hello, friends! Our book today is Night Night, Groot, written by Brendan Deneen and illustrated by Cale Atkinson, a wildly fun Marvel-themed bedtime book starring everyone’s favorite flora colossus, Baby Groot.

It’s bedtime on the Milano, and Baby Groot is being tucked in with a story. After all, he’s had a very busy day: fighting bad guys, spending time with his superhero friends, and generally saving the galaxy from evildoers. But his best friend Rocket isn’t having it – he insists that this is no time for sleeping, there’s more feats of derring-do to be had. More ships to crash, more mix tapes to listen to, and more Hulks to meet (and just how many Hulks are there, anyway?). But after all that excitement, even Rocket must admit that little trees should get their rest, and helps tuck Groot in with the promise of sweet dreams… and more adventure tomorrow!

We were so excited to receive this as a gift for JJ’s birthday, and I have to say, it absolutely lived up to expectations! Disney (plus Star Wars and Marvel by extension) are getting very clever and unique with their picture book tie-ins, and this was one of our favorites so far! It’s full of action-packed scenes of vanquishing villains and hanging with superheroes (favorites from both the movies and comic books make cameos, and adult Marvel fans will have just as much fun picking them out as their little ones). Cale Atkinson’s art is vibrant and fun, mixing comic-book style action with kidlit-style characters and layouts, creating some exciting illustrations with hilarious details. The length is perfect, and JJ loved it. A fantastic read for Marvel fans big and small, and Baby Bookworm approved!

Explorers Of The Wild (Cale Atkinson)

Hello, everyone! Today, we read Explorers Of The Wild by Cale Atkinson, an adorable story of two adventurers and their unexpected friendship.

Exploring the wild takes guts, be you human or bear. It takes knowledge, ingenuity, curiosity and skill. And if you’re very, very lucky, sometimes you will find a friend who shares those same qualities, and who might spend the day wandering the wild with you. And when you have to part, it might be bittersweet, but you will always have the memories of your adventures together.

Atkinson’s To The Sea was one of our favorite books last year, so we had high hopes for this one, and it absolutely delivered. Once again, the reader is given a wonderful, colorful, exhilarating book about friendship and what makes it special. The way the illustrations and text are laid out, the reader feels as though they are joining Boy and Bear on their adventures, and the story has a lot of great themes on friendship, nature, and courage. The length is just perfect for baby bookworms, and JJ thoroughly enjoyed it. This one is definitely recommended for adventurers of all ages, and it is absolutely Baby Bookworm approved!