Little Monster Trucks Go! (Doug Cenko)

Hello, friends! Back with another special weekend review! Our book today is Little Monster Trucks Go! by Doug Cenko, a fun and fast-paced tale of competition and teamwork.

Five little uniquely-shaped monster trucks are ready for race day! Each one has their own special style and flair, and is prepared to take on the challenging racetrack. There are plenty of perils ahead, but each little monster truck is equipped with special tools and features that help them jump over gaps and plow through mud. But wait – at the end of the track, a giant boulder blocks their path? None of the trucks can do it on their own… but with a little tricky transformation, these ingenious trucks are not out of the race yet.

A fun ride with a sweet message. Telling a pretty straightforward tale of teamwork with bouncy yet somewhat underwhelming rhymes, it’s Cenko’s unique art elements that elevate the story to something special. For one thing, the play on words of “little monster trucks” is doubly delightful; it’s both an oxymoron and a double-meaning, as the vehicles themselves are not just monster trucks but also trucks that are monsters. What’s more, I loved that two of the trucks had distinctly “feminine” designs – it shows that interest in vehicles need not be something perceived as strictly “masculine.” The bright colors and comic book-style action sequences were exciting visually, and it enhanced the story immensely; even the endpapers, which feature the track map and stats for each car, are creative and fun. The length was great for a quick storytime, and JJ really enjoyed this one, especially the unicorn car that left a wake of rainbows. Overall, this one is an enjoyable adventure with a nice message on working together, and some great subtext on inclusion. We liked it, 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.)

Little Sleepy Solar System (Dr. John Hutton)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Little Sleepy Solar System, written by Dr. John Hutton and illustrated by Doug Cenko, a delightful board book inspired by the author and illustrator’s previous work, Sleepy Solar System.

Time again to meet the eight (maybe nine?) planets of the solar system, this time as they go about their adorable, anthropomorphized day. Count one through nine as they introduce themselves by name, learn a few distinctive colors, and opposites like near/far, big/small, and cold/hot. Then as everyone tucks in for bed, wish your new planetary friends and their moons a sweet good night.

Thoroughly charming. From the unbelievably sweet artwork of the planets – each meant to emulate fabric with illustrated fibers and stitches, giving them an extra-cozy feel – to the simple rhyming text, this little celestial exploration is a treat. Pluto is an outlier (listed as number “9?” in the first spread), though it is not explained why; parents will have to fill in that bit of trivia. The length is brief, and perfect for the very littlest of bookworms, but JJ also enjoyed this sweet little romp. Overall, a fun planetary primer that young readers are sure to enjoy. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Zzzookeeper (Dr. John Hutton)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Zzzookeeper, written by Dr. John Hutton and illustrated by Doug Cenko, a fun bedtime romp about some mischievous zoo animals.

When the sun goes down and the zookeeper goes to sleep, that’s when the animals of the zoo get a chance to go a little wild. From the biggest crocodile to the smallest naked mole rat, nearly all the animals use their twilight hours to creep out and cut loose a bit. The big cats play in their ball pit, the birds in the aviary throw a rocking party, the manatees are having a birthday bash, and even the sloth and the slow loris get in on the fun. But when it’s time for everyone to settle down for their own nighttime snooze, the bedtime monitor Elephant is on the case. At last, even the rowdiest of the beasts is snuggled into bed – just in time to evade detection by the zookeeper.

Very cute! Between the bouncy rhymes and the delightfully energetic illustrations, this was a fun imagining of what zoo animals get up to after-hours. The activities chosen are fun and fanciful rather than truly mischievous, which makes staying up past bedtime – a common childhood transgression – the worst offense. There were a few text couplets that stumbled a bit in rhythm, and something about the way the elephants were drawn – trunk detached from their mouth – was slightly off-putting, but these were minor complaints. For the most part, this was a really enjoyable story that was a good length for bedtime and that JJ loved. Definitely Baby Bookworm approved!

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

My Papa Is A Princess (Doug Cenko)

(Due to unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to post last night’s review. Sorry for the delay!)

Hello, friends! Our book today is My Papa Is A Princess by Doug Cenko, a heartwarming look at the many things a father can be.

The reader is introduced to the papa-daughter duo by the unnamed child narrator: “My Papa is…”. He’s a racecar driver, an art collector, a hair stylist, a master chef. Each example is shown in the fantastical image through his child’s eyes followed by the reality – playing with toy cars on the floor, admiring a collection of crayon drawings, braiding his child’s pigtails, and cooking a meal – all as a pair. But the best thing Papa is? He’s Papa!

This was wonderful! I loved the mixture of father-child (the youngster appears to be a little girl, but this is subtly never defined) activities: some are masculine, some are feminine, and both characters are clearly enjoying their time together regardless. The illustrations are warm and loving, with both versions of the various “jobs” being a treat to compare. The text is simple and sweet, making for a quick yet easily repeated read. And clearly, JJ was a fan. This is a fantastic story for daddies and their own little bookworms to share, and 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.)

Sleepy Solar System (Dr. John Hutton)

Hello, friends! Today, we read Sleepy Solar System, written by Dr. John Hutton and illustrated by Doug Cenko, an astronomical bedtime story that takes us on a journey through the solar system.

It’s been a very busy day in the Milky Way, and Sun tells everyone that it’s time for bed. One by one, the planets tuck in for bed. Mercury has been spinning at a dizzying pace, and is ready for a rest. Mother Earth has on her blue-and-green jammies, with white clouds up in curlers. Uranus reads a story, and teeny Pluto asks for one more hug and kiss. Then all the planets settle in for a good night’s sleep.

This one left me with mixed feelings. For every bit that I liked, there was also something that was disappointing. Among the pluses, this is a very different take on the bedtime story, and filled with some great information about the plants in our solar system. The illustrations are exceedingly cute, and filled with great details. However, the rhyme scheme of the text was very inconsistent, which made it difficult to find a rhythm when reading aloud. And while the length was fine for a bedtime story, JJ wasn’t as excited about this one as she tends to be. I should also mention that other reviews have pointed out minor scientific errors, but that’s best left to reader discretion; most of the inaccuracies are fairly trifling, considering the entire premise of the book is scientifically impossible (how can an entire planet have “night” at once?) and meant in good fun, rather than purely educational. Overall, this was a neat introduction to the planets for little astronomers, but ultimately lackluster. Still, the original concept and adorable art alone is enough for us to call this one Baby Bookworm approved!