Leo: A Ghost Story (Mac Barnett)

Hello, everybody! Today’s book is Leo: A Ghost Story, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Christian Robinson, a wonderful story about friendship and acceptance.

Leo is a ghost. He’s not a scary ghost mind you, just a little boy ghost who has lived alone in his abandoned house for a long time. So when a family moves in and says unkind things about their home’s specter when he tries to be welcoming, Leo is hurt. He decides to leave home and explore the city, but it has changed so much from before. Leo feels lost and lonely, until one day he finds a girl name Jane, a girl who can see him! But Jane thinks Leo is her imaginary friend! Should Leo risk telling the truth about his ghostliness and risk losing her friendship forever?

This was a fantastic book that had some complex layers of meaning. On the surface, it’s a playful tale of friendship and kindness, with fearless Jane welcoming Leo into her life without hesitation when he is feeling lonely. Beyond that, however, it’s an allegory for the acceptance that defines true friendship: Leo is scared of revealing his true self, especially after being treated so poorly by the other humans. But Jane loves him just as he is, and readily shifts her preconceptions when Leo reveals the truth. It’s a fantastic message for children and adults. Robinson’s art is as simple yet gorgeous as always, following a muted blue and gray color scheme that fits the themes of the story well. The length is fine, and JJ absolutely loved it. This one is a definite winner, and we recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Rain! (Linda Ashman)

Hello, friends! Today, we read Rain!, written by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Christian Robinson, a story about what a positive attitude can do.

As the rain falls over the city, a grumpy old man grumbles about the wet weather while putting on his rain gear. Across town, an excited little boy greets the rain with glee, putting on his froggy rain hat and coat, and hopping through the puddles. Each person he passes sees his joy, and it brings a smile to their faces. Meanwhile, the old man’s angry mood has not improved, and darkens the mood of everyone around him as he lashes out on others. When the two opposites walk into the same cafe, what will happen? Will the man’s foul mood infect the boy as well? Or can a bit of positivity and kindness from the little boy turn the man’s day around?

This was absolutely adorable. The central theme was fantastic, showing that we choose to view things positively or negatively, and those choices not only effect our mood by can make an impact on the attitudes of those around us. I love that it encourages children to examine how what we put out into the world comes back to us, for better or worse. The illustrations are fabulous of course, utilizing Robinson’s signature cut-paper artwork to build a city full of life, people, and weather. The length is perfect for little ones, and JJ loved it. This is a perfect book for a rainy day. Baby Bookworm approved!

Antoinette (Kelly DiPucchio & Christian Robinson)

Hello, friends! Today, we read Antoinette by Kelly DiPucchio and Christian Robinson, an adorable tale about finding one’s talents.

The Poodle and Bulldog families from Gaston are back with another adventure, this time centered around Gaston’s counterpart, Antoinette, a feisty poodle raised with three bulldog brothers. Antoinette’s brothers each have very special skills: one is smart, one is fast, and one is strong. But Antoinette can’t figure out her talent, so her mother encourages her to be patient. One day at the park, while playing with the Poodle family, one of Gaston’s siblings (Ooh-La-La) goes missing! All the puppies use their talents to try to find him, but with no luck! But Antoinette refuses to give up, going on the hunt for Ooh-La-La, and perhaps finding her special gift along the way!

Okay, if you’ve read this blog at all, you know that Kelly DiPucchio is one of our favorite authors, and that we adored the prequel to this book, Gaston. So of course, we were so excited to read Antoinette and it did not disappoint! Much like Gaston was centered around finding oneself in an adopted family, Antoinette is about finding one’s place in one’s own family and in the world. Christian Robinson’s adorable and gorgeous illustrations will make you fall in love with the Parisian pups of the story, the length is perfect, the text is fun to read, and JJ loved it so much that I could barely get her to put it down for a snack. This one is best paired with its companion book, but also just lovely on its own, and we emphatically recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

School’s First Day Of School (Adam Rex)

Hello, everyone! Today, we read School’s First Day Of School, written by Adam Rex and illustrated by Christian Robinson! This is a very cute story about how the first day of school can be nerve-wracking for everyone, even the school itself.

One summer, they build a special building on an empty lot, and they name it Frederick Douglass Elementary. School thinks that’s a very nice name for himself, and he enjoys spending his days with Janitor, who comes to clean him. He tells Janitor as much, only to be surprised by his reply: soon, School will be filled with teachers and children who come to learn and play! How scary! Will they like School? Will they be nice to him? Will he make any friends like Janitor? The story follows School through his tumultuous first day and shows that even School gets first-day jitters.

This was a very sweet book. The illustrations are cute and colorful, and really bring School and his inhabitants to life, and the story is just great. It’s perfect for any child who might be feeling a bit unsure about heading to school. The length is fine for baby bookworms, but probably even better for older, school-aged children. We enjoyed it! Baby Bookworm approved!

Gaston (Kelly DiPucchio)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Gaston, written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Christian Robinson, the story of a little “poodle” and how he brings two families together.

Mrs. Poodle has four lovely poodle children, but Gaston is different: he’s bigger, and he must try harder than his sisters at being dainty, delicate and polite. Still, Gaston works hard to be a good poodle, and his family loves him. Then one day at the park, his family discovers another mother with four pups: three French Bulldogs and a miniature poodle! Mrs. Poodle and Mrs. Bulldog realize what must have happened, and agree to let the children decide what to do. So the adopted pups decide to switch back, but quickly realize that even though they are with dogs that look like them, they miss their families and their mothers (and their mothers miss them), so they choose to live with their adopted families, and both families decide spend every day together at the park.

This book was wonderful! First, the illustrations are absolutely charming, the length was great for Baby Bookworms, and the text is a lot of fun and very interactive for younger readers. But I loved the story, and its message about adoption and what makes a family, most of all. Not only did it impress that families need not always be related by blood, they also show that family comes in every shape and size. It was also great that the two dog families decided to maintain a close relationship after the pups switched back: it showed that it’s okay to have a relationship with both adoptive and birth families. These are wonderful messages when more and more kids are being raised in blended and non-traditional families, and we loved it! Baby Bookworm approved!