Julia, Child (Kyo Maclear)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Julia, Child, written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julie Morstad, an ode to cooking and childhood.

From the first time young Julia tastes sole meunière, she is enchanted by cooking and cuisine. She and her friend Simca spend days together, at the market shopping for ingredients, learning the craft of creating fine food, testing new recipes together in the kitchen. Their pursuits bring them such joy that when they notice the dreary and uninspired adults around them, they wonder if their culinary creations can help. Gathering a diverse group of busy, serious people for a meal, Julia and Simca serve them a plentiful gourmet table that contains all the delights and joys of childhood. Their guests are exuberant at first, yet quickly turn selfish, hoarding the food from the others when they fear it will run out. Frustrated and disappointed, Julia and Simca return to their comfort zone, the kitchen, to figure out how to tweak their recipe and achieve just the right flavor of happiness.

Deliciously inventive. Obviously, this reimagining of the friendship between Julia Child and Simone Beck isn’t historical; the women met and discovered a shared love of French cuisine in adulthood. But this is no matter: Julia and Simca are sweet nods to their real-life adult counterparts in a story that is not about them, but about finding a passion and using it to create, and to inspire others. And while it felt like parts of the metaphor flew over my head – particularly the sequence in which the adults aggressively reserve the food – the overarching message is one of appreciating the little things, especially things like a meal made with love, or the bond between two best friends. Morstad’s illustrations are as lovely as ever, using soft colors and fine details to create unique, engaging characters and food that looks good enough to eat. The length is perfect, and JJ enjoyed this one a lot. A scrumptious read, especially for fans of the real life chef, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Unstoppable Me (Susan Verde)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Unstoppable Me, written by Susan Verde and illustrated by Andrew Joyner, a delightful look at the boundless energy of little ones.

A young child wakes, leaping around his parents’ room as they groggily come to. He is unstoppable, as he describes to the reader, a force of nature from the moment he wakes until the minute he falls asleep – and even in his dreams! He and all his friends love to spin, bounce, and tumble their way through the day, bounding through adventures and experiences big and small. Because in this energy, there is strength, potential, and drive – all the things that make little ones so unstoppable.

Lots of fun. Sometimes one of the best things a picture book can do is celebrate childhood – it’s a subject that kids can identify with and parents can connect to, and helps kids feel seen and validated. This one does so in wonderful fashion, celebrating the always-energetic child in an unapologetic and reaffirming way. While not every kid may be non-stop energy like the protagonist, almost all of them have experienced his same feelings of manic energy, and it’s nice that the book celebrates this as being normal and healthy (though it still includes some sly, sympathetic winks at parents who must corral these wild children). Joyner’s dynamic illustrations are a perfect compliment, each page busy – yet not overwhelming – with the little one’s activities. It’s an appropriately brisk read, and JJ really enjoyed it – this is a fun one, and Baby Bookworm approved.

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

How To (Julie Morstad)

Hello, friends! Our book today is How To by Julie Morstad, a charmingly understated celebration of the simple pleasures of childhood.

Childhood doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but that’s okay – half the fun is discovering the “how to’s” along the way. For instance, how to see the wind? Paper kites and balloons. How to wash your face? Enjoy the warm summer rain without an umbrella. How to go fast? A variety of options: a scooter, dress-up wings, stilts and, of course, simply running free. And so each illustration provides the reader with helpful suggestions on how to feel the breeze, how to stay close, how to be invisible. After all, that’s the fun and wonder of childhood: finding out for yourself how to be happy.

LOVED this. With succinct text, Morstad’s delicate pencil illustrations that utilize detail and negative space masterfully, and a lovely sense of whimsy and wonder, this book perfectly captures the quietly carefree moments of childhood. Each illustration and spread was just gorgeous, employing a multi-ethnic cast of children engaging in play in such a genuine way that young readers will be able to easily identify, and adults will feel nostalgic for their own days of play. There’s a quiet elegance to the entire book, and it was lovely to read. The length is perfect for little ones of any age, and JJ and I both enjoyed it. A delightful look at the joys of being small, 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.)

I Wish You More (Amy Krouse Rosenthal)

Hello, friends. Our book today is I Wish You More, written by the late, great Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, a heartfelt meditation on the wishes parents hold for their babies.

I wish you more hugs than ughs. More ups than downs. More umbrella than rain. More stories than stars. Simple, earnest sentiments make up the text, with a loved one wishing the reader friendship, joys, and courage as they grow. The narrator wishes these things with all their heart, because their child is everything that they could wish for, and more.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal sadly passed away last month, and this sweet, tender book was recommended to us as one of her best works, and we must agree. It’s sentimental without being schmaltzy; sincere yet still whimsical. The endearing and playful art captures the small wonders and simple pleasures of childhood in a way that young readers can connect to and older ones can feel nostalgic for. The length is perfect for baby bookworms, and JJ really enjoyed it, especially the illustrations. This is a all-around lovely book that celebrates the hope we have for our children, and the endless possibilities that their futures hold. We loved it, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

Are We There Yet? (Dan Santat)

Summer Reading Day 90: WE’VE DONE IT! Ninety books for 90 days of summer! Hooray! To wrap up our summer of reading, we picked Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat to read today. 

As a young boy rides in the backseat of his parents’ car to his grandmother’s house, he begins to get bored. The more restless he gets, the more his mind begins to wander, and his imagination begins to take hold. Suddenly, he and his parents find themselves flinging backwards and forwards through time as the boy imagines their journey traveling through the ages of cowboys, pirates and dinosaurs. 

What a cool book! The story is a perfect mix of wild, unexpected adventure for young readers and a heartwarming sense of nostalgia for adults (who doesn’t remember those seemingly endless car rides from our youth, and the odysseys our imaginations would take us on to pass the time?). The art is awesome: the characters are done in a modern comic book style, and even the book itself has a graphic novel-like layout, including several pages that require the book to be turned upside-down! The length is perfect for a baby bookworm, and older kids will love the comedy of the text and illustrations. JJ loved it, Mama loved it, and this one is enthusiastically Baby Bookworm approved!