Look After Us: A Lift-The-Flap Book (Rod Campbell)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Look After Us: A Lift-The-Flap Book by Rod Campbell, an animal conservation board book from the creator of the classic Dear Zoo.

Everyone loves wild animals! Lions, tigers, elephants, and orangutans are all such incredible creatures, but when the narrator decides to visit where they live, they are surprised to find that there aren’t many left in their natural habitats. “We need to look after them better,” the text repeats, with the narrator imploring the reader to look after these unique and special animals. At last, they visit the ocean, where there are lots and lots of whales. People are looking after the whales, so their numbers are strong, just as they should be.

Clumsy but sincere. While Campbell doesn’t quite recapture the magic of Dear Zoo in this lesson on species conservation for the littlest of bookworms, the genuine intention of inspiring readers to be conscious of endangered species is evident. The text is a little clunky, but uses repetition to its advantage, especially with an intended audience of very early readers. And while the idea that whales are no longer a concern for conservationists (about half of the great whale species are still endangered or vulnerable), Campbell chooses a good mix of kid-favorite critters to highlight; I was particularly surprised to find that Bactrian Camels are endangered in the wild. Simplistic illustrations are charming and a whitespace-heavy layout allows little ones to focus on the animals and their environments. Length was fine for the littlest of bookworms, and JJ enjoyed lifting the flaps. A very basic book to introduce kiddos to the idea of taking care of our wild animal pals, but effective. Overall, Baby Bookworm approved!

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

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.)

Be Thankful for Trees: A Tribute to the Many & Surprising Ways Trees Relate to Our Lives (Harriet Ziefart & Brian Fitzgerald)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Be Thankful for Trees: A Tribute to the Many & Surprising Ways Trees Relate to Our Lives by Harriet Ziefart and Brian Fitzgerald, a wonderful look at the integral part that trees play in all of our lives.

What would life be without trees? Well, just think of all the things we wouldn’t have if there were no more trees. There wouldn’t be cellos or pianos for music, and there wouldn’t be tree fruits or nuts to munch. There wouldn’t be homes for owls or birds, or paper to make art or books, or lumber for dining room tables or comfy chairs. Trees give us so much, and that’s why we must protect them, especially from man-made threats.

Fantastic! This loving ode to the many gifts given to humanity by trees manages to condense a great amount of concepts and information on our leafy pals into a charming and fun-to-read book. Ziefert’s bright, rhyming text makes for a quick read, despite the longer page count, and utilizes engaging elements like repetition to draw in young readers (JJ was gleefully parroting the repeated phrase “It would not!” by the third use). Fitzgerald’s digital illustrations capture an incredible range of atmospheres, from peaceful to dynamic, and feature a very nice diversity of skintones, ages, and body types. The length was great for an elementary storytime, and JJ loved it. Overall, this is a great way to begin a conversation on the importance of trees, and the importance of protecting them. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Amara and the Bats (Emma Reynolds)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Amara and the Bats by Emma Reynolds, a wonderful tale of one girl’s efforts to save her under-appreciated favorite animal.

Since a close-encounter as a little girl, Amara has loved bats – their fluffy faces and beady eyes are adorable to her, and she loves learning about their habits, biology, and special abilities. Her mom and older brother Samir are happy to hear the encyclopedic collection of bat facts she has memorized, and when the family moves to a new town, they take Amara out to look for the local bats first thing. But, to Amara’s disappointment, there are no bats in the area; a park ranger explains that development has destroyed the bat habitats in the area. Amara is broken-hearted at first, but after taking inspiration from other young environmental activists, she decides to start a campaign to build a bat reserve. It takes a lot of work, but Amara has friends and determination on her side – but will her efforts bring back the bats?

Marvelous. Bats are often-misunderstood creatures whose populations – and important place in ecosystems – have been increasingly threatened, especially in urban and suburban areas. This lovely tale of conservation, activism, and appreciation for nature does a wonderful job of showing the importance of bats, as well as telling a compelling story of one girl’s fight for a cause she believes in, and the community she builds by doing so. Charming and emotive illustrations feature lovable and diverse characters, plus some adorable bats. Well-crafted and informative backmatter teaches more about bats and their conservation in an entertaining style, and while the length may be stretching it for very young bookworms, JJ was riveted. This one is a delight, and we absolutely recommend it – it may even turn you into a bat-lover too. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

100 Endangered Species (Rachel Hudson)

Hello, friends! Our book today is 100 Endangered Species by Rachel Hudson, an awesome compendium of creatures from around the world who are in need of protection.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the orangutan, but have you ever heard of a Moscardón? Did you know whooping cranes mated for life? Or that there are only 200 to 300 Cross River gorillas left in the wild? Each page of this wildly comprehensive book features an animal on the IUCN Red List, ranging from low risk to critically endangered, and is classified as a “conservation priority”. In addition to information about their habitats, locations, and threats to the species, each animal is accompanied by a colorful and charming illustration to bring them to life. Readers can learn about animals they know, ones they may not have known of before, and what they can do to help these unique creatures thrive.

Fascinating! Hutton does a fantastic job of condensing information about each animal in two or three paragraphs, giving young bookworms just enough information to engage, not overwhelm. The animals themselves are a great mix of the familiar (African elephants, giant pandas, polar bears, etc.) and the more esoteric (purple-faced langurs, Danube clouded yellows, hirolas, and many more). Backmatter includes a glossary and a thorough list of conservation organizations, and the illustrated table of contents provides a clever visual treat. Overall, this is an interesting little book that provides a great deal of educational material for older elementary to middle-grade bookworms. It was obviously a little dense for JJ to get through in one sitting, but she loved the animal artwork. A wonderful way to get little ones invested in wildlife conservation, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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