When I’m Not Looking (Farren Phillips)

Hello, friends! Our book today is When I’m Not Looking by Farren Phillips, a ridiculous and hilarious interactive picture book that asks a question for the ages: what do our pets do when we’re not looking?

Young philosopher Legs has big questions – questions so big that even her Moms can’t answer them! But the one that truly troubles her? What does her pet duck do when she’s not looking? While the mild-mannered duck may seem like your average feather-brain, Legs cannot help but wonder if it’s all an act, and if her pet duck is in fact doing dastardly, dangerous, or disgusting things! Is she growing ten legs? Wearing Legs’s best pants? Gathering an army of ducks to take over the world? There are more outrageous things that even Legs cannot predict… and that’s where the reader comes in.

Innovative and delightful. While all of Legs’s hilarious hypotheses on her pet duck’s unobserved activities are wonderfully wacky, what makes this book unique are the interactive elements. While some traditional interactions are included – such as seek and finds throughout the quite cluttered house that Legs shares with her Moms – readers are also invited to draw, sketch, and invent their own crazy predictions of what the pet duck will do, including fill-in-the-blanks and prompts to provide drawings, fingerprints, coins, and a stamp. This allows each reader to truly make the story their own, while preserving their own silly ideas for future readings. It’s a clever concept that Phillips employs wonderfully though both art and text, and we were excited to imagine and create along with the story we were enjoying. But beware: potty humor again. Never my favorite, but comedic gold for the six-year-old. The length is great for a storytime, and JJ really loved this one. So as much as potty humor will always make me cringe, I can’t deny that this one is incredible unique and a whole lot of fun. 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.)

I Got You A Present! (Mike Erskine-Kellie)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Got You A Present!, written by Mike Erskine-Kellie and Susan McLennan, illustrated by Cale Atkinson.

Happy birthday! There’s a party all ready for you, complete with cake, a gathering of adorable animal friends, and of course, PRESENTS! Your eager friend Duck explains that he wanted to get you the greatest present ever, something that strikes the perfect balance of amazing, unexpected, and something you’ll love. However, with every attempt at the perfect gift, he hits a bump: knitting socks? Very tricky. Inventing an apple juice-fueled jet pack? He’s still working out the kinks. A pet dinosaur? Surprisingly difficult to find. After a plethora of attempts at the perfect gift for you, the poor duck is stymied – until he thinks of a gift that’s just the ticket.

Delightful! This simple, silly, and creatively meta tale is an unexpected treat. Duck eventually decides that the story of his search for a present is the perfect present itself, and “gifts” the reader a physical copy in the penultimate spread (the cover a duplicate of the very book the reader is currently holding). This clever twist and the ridiculous antics of the Duck that precede it are full of light, playful visual gags, accompanied by conversational, matter-of-fact text that is fun to read aloud. The length is perfect for a quick storytime, and JJ really enjoyed the comedy, a repeating set up-then-punchline structure that gets funnier as the gifts escalate in preposterousness. This one is ready-made for birthdays, and would make a fantastic gift for any little reader. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Duck On A Disco Ball (Jeff Mack)


Hello, friends! Our book today is Duck On A Disco Ball by Jeff Mack, a story that imagines just what it is that grown-ups are up to after their kids go to bed.

A little boy resists his bedtime, citing a number of serious (yet unlikely) events that he would miss if he were sleeping: what if a giant boulder smashes the house? Or a bunch of cows come for a party? His parents remind him that growing little boys need sleep, but he asks an all-too-familiar question: how come THEY get to stay up? After all, what is it that adults do after their children’s bedtimes? Finding his stuffed duck draped over a disco ball the next day, the boy decides to stay up to find out… but is he ready for the wild surprises in store?

I feel like this is a pretty common question that kids have for their parents, and the book proposes some amusingly ludicrous scenarios: the boy’s toy duck comes to life and, with the parents, hosts a rollicking party filled with talking farm animals, jumping on the couch, delicious snacks, and even a quite literal “rock” concert. The illustrations capture a sense of frenzied, disorganized fun, perfect for a party. And the reader is left with a question as to whether the events were real or only a dream in a way that extends the joke without being frustrating. But be aware: this book is PUNNY. SO many puns. Kids love them, so it works well in context, but oh man. I definitely groaned internally at a few. However, if puns are your thing, this is a fantastic romp that will delight little readers – even if it may make them want to stay up a little later. The length was good, JJ enjoyed it, and this one is Baby Bookworm approved!

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

The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse (Mac Barnett)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen, a delightfully weird fable about making the best of a bad situation.

A mouse is scampering through the woods one day when he comes upon a wolf – who promptly eats him. Trapped in “the belly of the beast”, Mouse bemoans his fate a moment, until he hears another voice telling him to hush, as it’s past bedtime. Shocked, Mouse finds that he is not alone in the wolf’s tummy: Duck, a previous meal of the hungry wolf, has made a lovely home in his new surroundings, complete with bed, fully stocked kitchen, and record player. In fact, he doesn’t mind having been eaten – now that he lives inside the wolf, he doesn’t worry much about getting eaten by wolves anymore. Mouse decides to stay as well, and the two new friends hold a party to celebrate, giving the wolf a terrible tummyache. And THAT’S when the hunter arrives…

If you’ve ever read a Barnett/Klassen collaboration before, you know that their stories are a little dark, a little odd, extremely dry, and funny as all getout, and this one is no different. Klassen’s wide-eyed characters are hilariously expressive (the climactic spread had me rolling with laughter), and while his use of dark/black space here – rather than his usual white space – can make the spreads confusing for very young eyes, it perfectly fits the tone and humor of the book and older readers will love it. The text and dialogue are filled with hilarious deadpan humor, and the ending has a wonderfully unexpected twist payoff. The length is great, and JJ and I both had a scream reading it. A hysterically twisted fable to share, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Love Is (Diane Adams)

Hello, friends! For our last book of February, we picked Love Is, written by Diane Adams and illustrated by Claire Keane, a gorgeous and touching story about parenthood.

Told in delicate rhyme, the story follows a little girl who finds a lost duckling, taking her in and caring for her. Through midnight feedings, messy bathtimes, and playful and quiet moments both, the reader watches the bond between the girl and her pet grow, just as the duckling does. Soon, it is time for her beloved duckling to move on to a bigger pond. And while she misses her little yellow friend, she knows that their love will always remain, and even grow.

I completely teared up at this one. On the surface, the tale of little girl and her tiny duckling is the story of the work and care that goes into both friendship and beloved pet. Yet adult readers do not have to look far below the surface to find a moving allegory for a parent’s love: dealing with the joys, frustrations and heartbreaks of watching your tiny love grow and change and, eventually, move on to the bigger world. Keane’s illustrations are as charming as always, with her color palette for Love Is being fondly reminiscent of children’s books from the early mid-century, which gives the art a lovely, nostalgic touch. The rhythm of the text is great, and the length is perfect, and JJ loved the story and the bright yellow ducks. This one is all heart, and might even bring a sentimental tear to your eye. We absolutely loved it, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!