Cat Dog (Mem Fox & Mark Teague)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Cat Dog by Mem Fox and Mark Teague, a seemingly-simple yet surprisingly intriguing look at narratives and point of view.

There are two things the reader can be sure of: 1) there is a dog in this book, and b) there is a cat in this book. Beyond that, the details can get, well… fuzzy. The description of a simple scenario between a dog, a cat, and a mouse in a living room becomes more complex with the introduction of unreliable narration and shifting perspectives. As the story unfolds, readers can decide for themselves what actually took place – and what happens next.

Deceptively complex. The idea of unreliable narration can be tricky for children’s books, but this one balances the concept well with a simplified story, uncomplicated text and some hilariously illustrative artwork. As each page asks a question of the reader, and the following page answers with either yes or no, giving young bookworms the opportunity to guess for themselves what might happen next, and leaves the final question open-ended so they can imagine how the story might further unfold. It’s a clever concept, and very well executed. The illustrations do a great job of portraying the multiple possibilities presented through subtle shifts in tone, details, and the body language of the animals. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ really enjoyed this one, especially the twists and turns and easy-to-read text. Overall, this was a really interesting read, and well worth checking out. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Cat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites (Tullio Corda)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Cat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites by Tullio Corda, a simple and entertaining story of a pair of feisty frenemies.

Told by combining single- or double-word opposite pairs with illustrations, the reader follows the red cat and blue dog through a day of misadventures, primarily fueled by the cat’s sneaky and mischievous actions and the sweet yet dopey dog’s reactions. Readers can explore opposites such as above/below, quiet/loud, soft/hard, and so on, as the cat and dog stumble through a series of antics and interactions.

Simple and cute. While the concept is fairly basic and the story not particularly noteworthy, this translated import still has a good amount going for it. The illustrations are bright, colorful, and full of inoffensive, child-friendly visual humor that made JJ smile. And for beginning-readers, the simplicity of the words used to convey the opposite pairs is a plus – JJ was able to read nearly the entire book on her own, with only a few corrections on longer words like “unconcerned”. It’s a quick title that would make for a brief read, but for kids learning their opposites or beginning to read by themselves, this could be a nice easy read to help build confidence. Overall, it’s not a bad little book; nothing groundbreaking, but a well-constructed update on some classical literacy-comprehension themes, and worth a look. All in all, Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Poor Louie (Tony Fucile)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Poor Louie by Tony Fucile, a charming tale of a troubled pup.

Poor Louie. Life used to be paradise for this diminutive little dog; sitting at the table and dining on scraps, cuddling on the couch and in bed with his mom and dad, and being the pampered center of attention in their household. He even loved when his mom would invite her friends over for visits… until THEY started to arrive. First one, then two, then four – smaller humans on all fours who pulled his ears and poked his tummy. Louie was relieved when the babies would leave, but soon some new oddities began to appear at home. Suddenly he had to eat his meals on the floor, and bedtime was a much tighter squeeze as his mom’s belly grew (and… KICKED him?!). Spying a collection of new baby items – all in pairs – and a double stroller, Louie suddenly realizes that his family is about to grow by TWO. Oh no – how much change can poor Louie take?!

ADORABLE. The story of a new baby joining the family from a pet’s perspective is a classic one, yet this take feels fresh in every way, from the wonderfully expressive character design to the hilarious and endearing story. Louie’s concern over the changes in his family are specific and exaggerated just enough to be funny, but relatable enough in a broader sense that older brothers and sisters of the human variety can identify. And the resolution is one as adorable and heartwarming as a book about puppies and babies should have, with an added and unexpected modern twist. The length was fine for all ages, and JJ LOVED little Louie, as did I. An absolute treat, and Baby Bookworm approved.

Wake Up, Color Pup (Taia Morley)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Wake Up, Color Pup by Taia Morley, a sweet and simple adventure through color with a playful pup.

A little white dog wakes up with the sun, following a spritely yellow bird out into the world. Each landscape he plays across showcases a different color: first yellow, then orange, then red, all the way through the rainbow. His rolling, splashing, and frolicking leaves traces of each hue on his white fur, until a sudden storm of black and gray comes along and washes it all off. Once the rain has passed, however, the pup finds that there is still plenty of color left to enjoy, and to share.

Adorable. The simple rhyming text focuses on the actions of the charming pup and the colors being explored, making this a bright and easy read for younger bookworms. The rhymes can occasionally be a little clunky, especially when read aloud, but the minimalist structure of the text lessons the impact of any stumbles. The art is lovely, using the colors and characters to create riotously bright and endearingly sweet visuals that are uncomplicated yet exciting and fun. The length is perfect for any age, and JJ loved it. A wonderful story to introduce little ones to color, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Tyler & Lucy Are The Best Of Friends (Alicia Arso-DiStefano)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Tyler & Lucy Are The Best Of Friends, written by Alicia Arso-DiStefano and illustrated by Alejandra Lopez, a look at a special relationship between a baby boy and his dog.

When her parents bring home baby Tyler from the hospital, Lucy the dog is excited! She’s always loved playing with little ones, but she’s never had a little baby brother of her own. From day one, the little gray dog is gentle and sweet with the tiny baby boy, and baby Tyler is as equally enamored of her. As Tyler grows and becomes more mobile, he and Lucy manage to get into all sorts of adventures – and occasionally trouble as well! Dutiful dog Lucy is quick to make Tyler giggle or kiss away his tears, and Tyler is happy to share his snacks and give her cuddles.

Very sweet. Based on the author’s real-life son and dog, it’s easy to see that each moment is drawn from reality, and the doe-eyed character art and colorful cartoon setting create engaging visuals for this boy-meets-dog tale. The story structure is a bit uneven; it starts with an origin story, then shifts to a “day in the life” without much rise or fall in action. It reads as a mother’s celebration of her child and dog – not necessarily a bad thing, as this creates a soothing story that little dog lovers will enjoy. The illustrations are full of character and color, and while there are a few spreads that rely a bit too much on negative space, the characters are adorable enough to forgive this. The length is great and JJ and I enjoyed it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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