Only One (Deborah Hopkinson & Chuck Groenink)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Only One by Deborah Hopkinson and Chuck Groenink, a scientific adventure through the universe and our one-of-a-kind place in it.

The blue-beanied and yellow-rainslickered child narrator greets the reader with the enigmatic phrase, “One. Only one. The story starts with one.” Convincing their sibling to turn off the television and join them and their friends on a forrest expedition (with a surprise destination), the child explains the makeup of the universe, from the Big Bang to the galaxies, stars, and down to our own solar system. Regaling fascinated friends with information on Earth’s atmosphere, continents, environments, fauna, and flora, the group eventually make their way to a tree-planting event, so that they can take part in protecting the Earth – their own planet, and the only one we’ve got.

Wonderful! Hopkinson’s incredibly informative text and Groenink’s charming illustrations work in perfect concert to tell a story of big things, and the impacts small actions can have on them. Hopkinson skillfully takes rather large scientific concepts like astrophysics, ecology, and biodiversity and manages to give readers a crash course in how they relate to both a larger universe and to human beings as individuals, both educating the reader on the subjects themselves and tying them into global responsibility. Groenink’s artwork, which does the heavy lifting narrative-wise, flawlessly tells a sweet story of a single child convincing others to appreciate and engage with nature, subtly reminding us that “only one” person can make a big difference as well. The illustrations also feature a nice diversity of skintones, hair types, and ages, as well as religious representation through head coverings. The length is perfect for an elementary storytime, and JJ really enjoyed this one. A great way to explore an important message, and empower young conservationists. We 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.)

The Friend Ship (Kat Yeh)

Hello, friends! Today, we read The Friend Ship, written by Kat Yeh and illustrated by Chuck Groenink, a wonderful tale about how the best friendships are often found in the very place you don’t think to look.

Hedgehog is curled into a spiny ball in a lonely hollow under a lonely tree. No longer wanting to be alone, he decides to set out in search of The Friend Ship, a vessel that sails the high seas carrying friends for everyone. As he prepares to leave in his little boat, Beaver asks if he might come along; he could use a friend too. The same for a group of deer they happen upon, and a little lonely mouse. Each time their boat stops to ask for directions, they seem to pick up a new creature in need of company. And as they sail the high seas together, telling stories and singing songs, Hedgehog begins to wonder if they’ll ever find The Friend Ship… or has he been on it all along?

What a fantastic story! The message, that the best way to find a friend is to be a good friend to others, is classic and timeless, yet the heartwarming twist of the lonesome animals finding friendships simply by opening their hearts to others who wish to do the same is fabulously sweet. The illustrations of the animals are cute and lively, and the text is a good length and fun to read. Still, the story is what shines here: a classic tale of hope, kindness, and camaraderie. JJ loved this one, and I did too! We highly recommend it, and it’s definitely Baby Bookworm approved.