Reading Beauty (Deborah Underwood)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Reading Beauty, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Meg Hunt, another futuristic fairy tale from the pair behind Interstellar Cinderella.

Princess Lex loves reading more than almost anything in the world. Any book of any size, any subject, any length – she’ll devour its contents eagerly before picking up the next title. So when she wakes the morning of her 15th birthday to find every book in the kingdom being packed away, she is aghast! Demanding an explanation from her parents, they tell her the story of the celebration of her birth, an evil fairy who was incensed about being uninvited, and a treacherous curse that will be brought on by a paper cut in her fifteenth year. Bereft in a world without books – and seeing how their disappearance has negatively impacted her kingdom as well – Lex decides to fight the curse herself, using the most powerful weapon at her disposal: knowledge.

Marvelous! Once again, Underwood and Hunt have taken a familiar fairy tale and infused it with both futuristic pizzaz and a strong feminist message. Clever tweaks made to the story both pay homage to the original while giving it a much-needed update; Lex’s “prince”, for instance, is her loyal and trusty dog, Prince. The art is phenomenal, and Hunt’s Afro-futurist environments and details make this an even more inclusive treat (a particularly lovely visual in which Lex’s father does her hair to comfort her as her mother explains the curse was my favorite). The length was perfect, and rhyming text was clever and fun to read aloud, and JJ loved it. A wonderful girl-power story for any young book-lover, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Bearnard’s Book (Deborah Underwood)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Bearnard’s Book, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Misa Saburi, an adorable story of friendship and courage.

While relaxing under a tree one day, Bearnard gets a notice from the Queen of Storybook Land: he has been chosen to star in his very own book! Bearnard is elated – he’s always wanted his own book, one for children to read and enjoy at home or in school; where he can be anything he wants, from a brave knight to a superhero. He proudly tells his friend Gertrude the goose, who is happy for him. However, as Bearnard begins to research other bear books, he begins to question if he has the right stuff to star in his own. Attempting to emulate great bears of literature, he tries to float in an umbrella (resulting in four broken umbrellas), eat marmalade and make a mess (he’s great at the marmalade, but too neat for mess-making), and so on. With each failure to copy the better-known bears, he grows more discouraged – can he really star in his own book? But Gertrude is there to point out that he just needs to be himself: someone who is brave, kind, and a good friend.

Lovely! With a sweet and gentle storybook rhythm, thoroughly charming art, and some delightful Easter eggs and nods to classic kidlit, this was a wonderful little read. The lessons are timeless and perfect: it’s brave to try new things, it’s okay to be yourself, friends support and encourage each other. Bearnard and Gertrude’s friendship is especially adorable, displaying a real sense of dimension in their dynamic. The art has a classic, warm look that is modern enough to be fresh but classic enough to be timeless – a wonderful balance. The length was great, and JJ loved it. A sweet and comforting read, 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.)

The Christmas Quiet Book (Deborah Underwood)

Hello, friends! Our book for tonight’s Holiday Countdown Week is The Christmas Quiet Book, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska, a lovely Christmas companion to the duo’s The Quiet Book and The Loud Book.

Christmastime is filled with quiet moments. There’s “Hoping for a snow day” quiet, or “gingerbread” quiet. There’s “searching for presents” quiet… and “getting caught” quiet. There’s “lighting the tree” quiet and – oops – “blown a fuse” quiet (too many lights!). There’s “pajamas” quiet, and “early Christmas present” quiet, and of course, “listening for sleigh bells” quiet. So while Christmastime is often filled with the boisterously happy noises of the season, it’s worth it to take a moment and appreciate the quiet moments as well.

This one was great! We loved the original Quiet Book, and this felt like a seamlessly natural companion, since winter and its holidays are indeed often full of special, dear, quiet moments. Some are decidedly humorous – I definitely had a good chuckle at a Christmas play-related gag – and some are tender and touching. Each moment is accompanied by a lovely pencil illustration; these are absolutely gorgeous, capturing the soft tone of the text and the gentleness of the theme perfectly. The length was great, and JJ enjoyed it. A perfect read for a quiet winter’s night, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Here Comes The Easter Cat (Deborah Underwood)

Hello friends, and Happy Easter! In honor of the occasion, we read Here Comes The Easter Cat, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Claudia Rueda, a story of a mischievous little cat who wants to get in on the Easter fun.

The first in the hilarious and adorable Here Comes Cat holiday series, the story opens on a grumpy kitty who feels jealous of all the attention the Easter Bunny gets. Wanting to get in on the action, he decides to deliver eggs to children too, on his motorcycle. Shortly after leaving though, he decides he needs a nap, his eighth of the day. Hmmm, maybe being the Easter Cat isn’t as easy as he thought… 

As always, the Here Comes Cat series is a delightful addition to the holidays. The hilarious conversational text combined with charmingly emotive illustrations to show Cat’s silently snarky responses makes for a very fun read, especially aloud. And of course, Cat learns his lesson at the end, as he always does, finding that kindness is its own reward. This is the third of this series we’ve read, and we enjoy each one more and more. The length is perfect, as the pace moves quick despite the book’s length, and JJ loved it. A fantastically silly read with a subtly sweet message make for a great way to celebrate the holiday, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Here Comes Valentine Cat (Deborah Underwood)

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! We spent the day playing with friends and reading a hilariously sweet book: Here Comes Valentine Cat, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Claudia Rueda.

Like the other books in the Here Comes Cat series, this fourth-wall breaking story has the reader in conversation was a rather sassy cat. Cat is not excited about Valentine’s Day, and he doesn’t want to make any valentines, especially for the annoying dog who just moved in next door. The dog who howls all day, throws bones in Cat’s yard, and even threw a ball and hit Cat in the head! But things are not always what they appear, and Cat may find that the best Valentine’s gift of all is to be a good friend.

This was our second Here Comes Cat book, and it was just as enjoyable as the last! The page-by-page “conversation” with Cat is a blast to read, and his reaction illustrations are hilarious, snarky, and adorable. I especially loved that this one had a great moral to the story: sometimes we can mistake the actions of others, and if we look at things from their perspective, we can better understand them. The length is great, just be prepared for a lot of page-flipping because of the way the book is laid out (not a problem for JJ, who LOVES turning pages). Also, clearly, this baby bookworm loved Cat and his antics. A hilarious and charming Valentine’s Day book that all ages can enjoy, and we recommend it! Baby Bookworm approved!