Dolls and Trucks are for Everyone (Robb Pearlman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dolls and Trucks are for Everyone, written by Robb Pearlman and illustrated by Eda Kaban, a wonderful look at the limitless possibilities of nongendered play.

Toys are for everyone. Dolls and trucks, superhero capes and nurses’ scrubs, sewing machines and hockey sticks and mixing bowls and video games and unicorns (especially unicorns because, come on, UNICORNS). All toys, dress-up costumes, and ways of imagining and creating are for boys, girls, and anyone who wants to use their imagination and build their skills. So don’t let anyone tell you that something is only for boys or girls, because kindness and understanding is for everyone too, and in play, just as in life, our possibilities are limitless.

Fantastic. In this marvelous pseudo-sequel to the pair’s previous title, Pink is for Boys, Pearlman and Kaban deconstruct notions of gendered play in a way that wisely incorporates open-minded approaches to play and to gender itself. The simple, enthusiastic text is easy and fun to read, yet also subtly incorporates inclusion that goes beyond boys vs. girls, adding on gender-neutral terms like “everybody” and “anyone” to include readers who lie outside the gender binary. Kaban furthers this sense of intersectional inclusion with a cast of cheerful and affectionate kids with different skintones, hair types, abilities, gender presentation, and even body types (the latter is a rarity, even in books on diversity). The result is an affirming lesson in the possibilities of imaginative and creative play when arbitrary limitations are not placed on the children playing. The length is perfect for a storytime for even very young readers, and JJ and I both loved it. A perfect book to encourage kids to rethink stereotypes about playtime, and we highly recommend 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.)

What Makes A Hero (Pamela Bobowicz)

Hello, friends! Our book today is What Makes A Hero, written by Pamela Bobowicz and illustrated by Eda Kaban, a fantastic celebration of female heroes, and how they can come in many forms.

Each spread features a heroine (or pair of heroines) from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning with the phenomenal Captain Marvel, who explains that everyone has a super power unique to them. And while many of the heroes featured have otherworldly abilities, the main focus is on the personal qualities they possess that make them heroic: courage, kindness, empathy, intelligence, creativity, teamwork, family, confidence, sisterhood, and more. Readers will meet warriors like Okoye, Gamora, and Black Widow; as well as heroes who use their minds, such as Pepper Potts, Shuri, and Peggy Carter. Because the truth is? With a sharp mind, a good heart, and a touch of bravery, anyone can be a hero, including you.

Lovely! This is a gem for any little reader who loves superheroes, but especially for little girls; this collection of heroes showcases both the brains, brawn, and heart that women use to achieve greatness. The diversity of the heroes is slightly limited by the source material (the women are mostly evenly divided between either white or black, with Mantis being an alien that presents as Asian), showing that the MCU still has strides to make in terms of diverse casting. However, I loved how each hero highlighted the very human qualities that help her succeed; we can’t all have quantum suits or cybernetic limbs, but we can all show kindness, leadership, or responsibility. The length was fine, best for patient bookworms but easily broken into bite-sized pieces for the easily distracted. And Eda Kaban, who has a pedigree in drawing awesome superheroes, does a fantastic job infusing each woman with a heroic yet relatable bearing. We loved this one, and highly recommend it – Baby Bookworm approved!

Even Superheroes Make Mistakes (Shelly Becker)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Even Superheroes Make Mistakes, written by Shelly Becker and illustrated by Eda Kaban, a super-powered look at dealing with mistakes.

Listen, even mighty superheroes make mistakes – they can bungle a big speech, or accidentally catch the good guys instead of the bad ones, or even get nabbed themselves! When things like this happen, they could pout or cry or tantrum or lay blame, but that’s just not what heroes do. No, heroes pick themselves up, take a moment to consider what to do next, then set about fixing whatever troubles their mistake may have caused. And once that’s all through, they always have have courage to try again. After all, no one is perfect, not even superheroes.

A sweet follow-up to Even Superheroes Have Bad Days, Becker and Kaban invite us back to the world of their original team of caped and costumed do-gooders. I really liked the focus on the various steps that can be taken after a mess-up: stay calm, consider, accept responsibility for your mistake, etc. It creates a really nice toolkit for kids for when they have to deal with their own flubs. However, unlike the previous book, the examples given were a bit incongruous, hopping between stopping criminals to building a bridge to putting too much salt in baked goods. It gave the plot an uneven tone, even with the sage advice intermingled. The art is great, evoking retro comic book characters and action. But while the heroes are a welcome mix of genders and skin tones, it was a little disappointing to see the male heroes with widely varied body types and covered head-to-toe by their costumes while all three ladies were uniformly slender and skimpily-dressed – true to comic books, but unfortunately so. Still, it was a good length, and JJ enjoyed it. Slightly uneven, but with a good heart and a great message. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Pink Is For Boys (Robb Pearlman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Pink Is For Boys, written by Robb Pearlman and illustrated by Eda Kaban, a clever color book that also challenges the notion of gender-exclusive colors.

Pink is for boys AND girls. Blue is for girls AND boys. And orange, green, brown, purple? Both boys and girls can enjoy these too! Each page introduces the reader to a new color of the rainbow, then shows how boys and girls both enjoying it together, such as pink bow ties and dresses for a rollicking dance party, a blue baseball uniform for a co-ed team, red soapbox cars and purple unicorns (because UNICORNS). Because the truth is that all colors are for everyone, everywhere to share – everyone loves a rainbow.

Awesome! It’s always wonderful to see books that challenge gender norms and encourage kids to enjoy whatever colors or hobbies make them happy. And this one does a pretty wonderful job, showing not only boys and girls, but boys and girls of all skintones, shapes, and sizes participating in the fun. The illustrations are appropriately bursting with color, and filled with vivid, energetic scenes that have a carefree attitude fitting to the message. The length is great, and JJ loved both the colors and the children enjoying them. A great way to teach little ones that color is beautiful, especially when it lets you be yourself, express who you are, and enjoy the things you love to do. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Even Superheroes Have Bad Days (Shelly Becker)

Hello, everyone! Today’s book is Even Superheroes Have Bad Days, written by Shelly Becker and illustrated by Eda Kaban, a fantastically super-powered book about positivity.

It’s true! Even superheroes can have bad days: they can get sad or mad or disappointed just like you. And they COULD throw super-powered tantrums: hurl cars, let loose sonic screams, or stomp and stamp and make the whole world shake. Or they could just stop being good, do bad things or let the criminals get away with their dastardly deeds. But superheroes would not, they could not, so they don’t, instead choosing to channel their sadness or frustrations into kindness and courage. Even superheroes have bad days, and that’s okay, because it’s the way they chose to handle them that counts.

This book was so awesome! First, the theme is perfect: bad days happen to everybody, no matter how big or powerful or strong. And the book stresses that it’s okay to cry or feel sad or mad, but it’s how a person chooses to channel those feelings afterwards that can make a difference for them and for others. There’s also a great message in there about how our attitudes and actions can affect other people. But the story still makes room for young readers to have fun watching superheroes throw some hilariously over-the-top tantrums before learning how to positively deal with their emotions. The illustrations are wonderful: colorful, full of action and detail, and I loved that women/people of color were depicted as superheroes, too. The rhyming text has perfect rhythm and pacing, and it was a joy to read aloud. Length was great, and JJ loved it. This one would be a phenomenal addition to any library. Emphatically Baby Bookworm approved!