Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed The World (Susan Hood)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed The World, written by Susan Hood and illustrated by 13 female artists, a collection of poetry that celebrates fourteen trailblazing women.

Each poem introduces us to the life and work of a remarkable young woman: Molly Williams, the first known female firefighter in the US; Maya Lin, the architect who, at only 21 years old, designed the Vietnam War Memorial amid great controversy; Pura Belpré, the NY public librarian who broke the race barrier for children in libraries; and many more. Familiar heroes like Frida Kahlo, Malala Yousafzai, and Nellie Bly share the spotlight with lesser-known heroines like Angela Zhang, Annette Kellerman, and the Nearne sisters, and leave readers with an inspiring truth: courage and brilliance know no race, age, or gender.

FAN. TASTIC. The poems are brief, use clear language for little readers, but do a phenomenal job of encapsulating each woman’s obstacles, her accomplishments, and her spirit (the Ruby Bridges entry caused me to openly weep). The art is a treasure trove, with each artist bringing their own style to their individual subject, their passion for which explodes from the page. And while these collections often neglect feminist icons of color, this one does not, including role models of Asian, Middle-Eastern, Latina, and African-American descent. It might be a little long to cover in one sitting with smaller bookworms, but could easily be put down and continued another time. And needless to say, JJ and I loved it. This is a powerful book that would be welcome on any little one’s bookshelf. Baby Bookworm approved!

Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey (Emily Winfield Martin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is a bedtime favorite in the Baby Bookworm household: Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey by Emily Winfield Martin, a thoroughly gorgeous fairytale of the magical creatures that lead children to dreamland.

When the lights go out and little ones snuggle into their beds, the magic of the dream animals begins. Each child has their own special creature just for them who comes and gives them a ride to wherever their dreams take them. Perhaps a fox to carry them to an elfin hollow, or a tiger to ferry them to a circus of wonders. Faithfully transporting their charges, there’s a special animal for each dreamer; what will yours be, and where will it take you when you dream?

I absolutely ADORE this book. It has everything you could want in a bedtime book: beautiful, soothing yet fantastical illustrations, wonderfully graceful rhyming text, and a concept that is absolutely perfect for sparking the imagination of little ones. The idea that children’s beloved plush animals become the creatures that bring them to their dreams is fresh and fascinating, and perfect for creative little minds. The art is just superb, and fans of Martin’s work will be blown away by the ethereal landscapes of children’s nighttime wonderings. The length is perfect, and JJ adores this one. A phenomenal modern bedtime classic, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

The Littlest Family’s Big Day (Emily Winfield Martin)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is The Littlest Family’s Big Day by Emily Winfield Martin, a sweet story of a tiny bear family’s move to a new neighborhood.

The Bear family has just moved to the forest, and they are excited to explore their new neighborhood. They aren’t like regular bears; only five inches tall, different colors, and their youngest child an adopted fox cub, they look very different from their neighbors. Still, the neighbors welcome them with cheer and hospitality as the family goes for a wander around their new home. But after much wandering, the family finds that they are lost! Fortunately, a kindly owl carries them home, where they find that the neighborhood has put together a huge party to welcome them to the forest.

This is a very cute book. As always, Martin’s art is the star of the show: her delicate yet rich environments and characters capture the magic of the forest. The story is simple, but there are some great lessons to be found about acceptance, being neighborly and welcoming, and showing kindness to new people. It feels very much like a metaphor for the immigrant experience, which is cool, and definitely includes a non-traditional, mixed-race adoptive family, which is even cooler. The length is great, and JJ always enjoys Martin’s art, as there are so many details to pick out. We really enjoyed this one, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

The Wonderful Things You Will Be (Emily Winfield Martin)

Hello, friends! Today, our book was The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin, a sweet and beautiful book about the uniqueness and boundless potential of every child.

Told in lovely, flowing rhyme, the book starts by explaining that every baby and child is unique, and that “this is the first time there has ever been a you.” From there, it explores some of the endless possibilities for who “you” can be: a musician or storyteller or scientist or superhero, nothing is off the table. For whatever amazing, remarkable thing a child turns out to be, the most important thing is that they are what is most precious: themselves.

What a positively wonderful book! As usual, Martin’s signature illustrations steal the show, creating distinctive and enchanting characters and environments on every page. The text is peaceful yet inspiring to read, and moves at a nice pace that makes the book a perfect length for baby bookworms. The theme is classic and timeless, and has a message that can appeal to any child or parent. And I loved that the book is so inclusive: there are characters of every race and color, and they do not adhere too strictly to gender norms: girls are depicted as rock stars and superheroes, boys are shown sewing clothes and having tea parties. A superb book from start to finish, and enthusiastically Baby Bookworm approved!

Day Dreamers: A Journey of Imagination (Emily Winfield Martin)

Summer Reading Day 70: Hey everyone! We had a special guest-reviewer today, JJ’s best buddy Betty, and together we read Day Dreamers: A Journey of Imagination by Emily Winfield Martin. This gorgeous book is about daydreams, and the beautiful and often fantastic creatures we create within them.

We are big fans of Martin’s book Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey (which was introduced to us by Betty and her mommy), and we enjoyed Day Dreamers a lot, too. The story and rhyme is sweet and fun to read, with a good length for little ones, and we loved the theme of exploring where our imaginations can find inspiration: reading, thinking, wondering and so on. But this book’s main selling point, as with Dream Animals, is its phenomenal art. The Victorian-gothic inspired art is intricate and wonderful to behold. We had a lot of fun reading it. Baby Bookworm approved!