The Story Of Fish And Snail (Deborah Freedman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Story Of Fish And Snail by Deborah Freedman, a lovely tale about friendship and compromise between two unusual friends.

Fish and Snail live together in their book, and are the best of friends. Every day, Fish goes out to explore the other books, but Snail prefers to wait where it’s safe and quiet until Fish comes home with stories to share. One day, Fish comes to tell Snail that he’s found an amazing book with a vast blue ocean, and pirates! He implores Snail to come with him to see. But Snail doesn’t want to play pirates (they are scary), he wants to pretend to be something safe like kittens instead. Fish snaps at Snail in frustration, and the two get into an argument that ends with Fish storming off to another book. But now Snail misses his dear friend. What is a timid Snail to do?

This is such a wonderfully unique book! The concept of Fish and Snail being characters in a library book that can explore other books is so neat, at gives the story a magical subtext that ignites the imagination. But the core story, that sometimes even best friends will fight, is perfect too. The best part was that the resolution showed compromise between the friends: Snail gathers his courage to follow Fish into the other book because he wants to make his friend happy; and Fish, touched, decides that they can play “kitten-pirate” so Snail feels more comfortable. It’s a great lesson in being compassionate and considerate of one’s friends, and it’s executed beautifully. The art is sweet, soothing, and fits the fantastical elements of the story just right. The length is perfect for baby Bookworm, and JJ loved this one! Totally Baby Bookworm approved!

This Is My Dollhouse (Giselle Potter)

Hello, everybody! Today’s book is This Is My Dollhouse by Giselle Potter, a sweet tale of imaginative play.

As the story opens, the little girl who serves as narrator introduces the reader to her dollhouse. She made it herself from a cardboard box, painted on bricks, and colored the walls to look like wallpaper. And she loves her dollhouse the way it is, with a mix-match family of dolls to live in it and a hodgepodge of furnishings and features that she cleverly creates by hand. The girl’s friend Sophie has a REAL dollhouse from a store, and everything inside is perfect, but not very unique. Sophie only likes to play with her dollhouse in a very certain way. The narrator worries that if Sophie comes to her house, she will not like the hand-made dollhouse and its quirky charms. But perhaps thinking of things a little differently will inspire Sophie to play more creatively as well.

This was a nice story about free play and using one’s imagination. I liked that the narrator was so ingenious with her creations, using found objects and her own inspiration to make things and tell stories that were original and clever. The conflict between the two girls felt like a familiar stumbling block for anyone who has watched two strong-willed children play, though I didn’t like the implication that store-bought toys are somehow less-conducive to creative thought (imagination is key for free play, not the provenance of the playthings). The illustrations were very pretty, especially those centered around the narrator’s dollhouse, but didn’t seem to hold JJ’s attention well. Indeed, the story was a bit slow-paced for her too, but older children would definitely benefit from the book’s message. Overall, it’s a very nice book that encourages imagination, so it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Hug It Out! (Louis Thomas)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Hug It Out! by Louis Thomas, a tale of sibling rivalry and love.

Woody and Annie have been fighting all afternoon, and their mother has had enough. So she implements a new punishment: whenever they argue, they must “hug it out” until they calm down. And sure enough, after every disagreement, name called, or hair tugged, their mother’s voice rings, “Hug it out!” After hours of hugging, the pair are happy to avoid each other rather than endure another forced embrace. But once they separate, the siblings find that they miss each other. Perhaps another hug wouldn’t be the worst… 

This book definitely had a very relatable theme. Most siblings, or parents of siblings, will easily recognize the love-hate dynamic that Woody and Annie share, and the resolution of their story felt very organic. The illustrations were very cute, with the pen-and-watercolor art striking a good balance of visual appeal for little ones while adding some humor for adults (the siblings’ increasingly exasperated mother is a relatable character indeed). My only complaint runs along the lines of the forced hugging, which is played for laughs here. While most would consider this a reasonable punishment, others may feel uncomfortable with the idea of forcing children to sustain physical contact against their consent. It would definitely be a judgement call for the reader. Otherwise, it had a good length, but JJ wasn’t overly jazzed about it. But it’s a fine book that older bookworms, especially those with siblings, may enjoy more, so we will call this one Baby Bookworm approved overall.