The Rabbit Listened (Cori Doerrfeld)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld, a simple yet touching look at how we process grief – or can help others who are grieving – during difficult times.

Taylor has an idea. It’s big, it’s bold, it requires planning and hard work, but when it’s done? The most beautiful block tower imaginable… until a flock of birds swoops down and obliterates it. Taylor is heartbroken by the destruction, overcome with emotion. A chicken comes by, sympathizing with Taylor and suggesting they talk about it. But Taylor doesn’t want to talk yet, so the chicken leaves. On it goes, with a parade of animals offering their suggestions – raging like a bear, hiding like an ostrich, laughing like a hyena – but Taylor doesn’t want to do any of these things, so they all depart in turn. At last, a rabbit softly approaches, and just sits with Taylor, providing silent comfort and companionship. And when Taylor feels ready to talk, to rage, to laugh, to cry, and to start again, the rabbit does what any good friend would do: it listens.

Beautiful. Gentle art, a profound story, and immaculate attention to detail make this a standout. The message is phenomenal: it’s okay to process your grief or sadness in whatever way feels right to you, and that sometimes the best thing you can do as a friend is simply be there and listen. That Taylor is intentionally made gender-nonspecific in look, name, and pronouns, to allow a wide range of children to identify, is a wonderful touch. So too is the structure of the dialogue, which allows for different voices and moments of levity, making the lessons of the book entertaining to learn. The art is spare, classic, yet appropriately warm. The length is great and JJ loved it. This is a perfect addition to any bookshelf or classroom: a timeless lesson in empathy, and Baby Bookworm approved.

We’re All Wonders (R.J. Palacio)

Hello, friends! Our book today is We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio, a story about feeling different and showing kindness. inspired by the characters of Palacio’s YA novel Wonder.

On the inside, Auggie feels like any other kid. He rides his bike, eats ice cream, and plays with his dog Daisy. However, Auggie doesn’t look like ordinary kids – he looks different. His mom says he’s unique, and that’s a wonder, but other people don’t always see it that way and can often hurt Auggie’s feelings. When this happens, he likes to retreat to his imagination, where he and Daisy don their space helmets and blast off to Pluto, where the local aliens don’t much care about how he looks. Still, Auggie has hope. He knows that he can’t change the way he looks… but perhaps someday, people can change the way they SEE.

This was a simple yet poignant story that did a great job of taking the themes of the original novel and distilling them down for little bookworms. The text and art are spare, which works great here – the art keeps Auggie’s physical differences abstract so as not to distract from the lesson, and becomes more elaborate and colorful as the story progresses. The simple language allows the message to be the focus, and it’s a great message: Auggie encourages others not only to look past his own physical differences, but ALL physical differences, and to have an more open and empathetic view towards the world overall. It’s a vital lesson for young readers, and it’s explored beautifully within the story. The length is great for all ages, and JJ and I really enjoyed it. It’s a wonderful tale of kindness, acceptance, and inner strength that can help teach little readers to embrace both the differences in others as well as themselves. Baby Bookworm approved!

Leonardo The Terrible Monster (Mo Willems)

Summer Reading Day 76: Our book today was Leonardo The Terrible Monster by Mo Willems, a story about a little monster who is just terrible at being scary. He decides to find the most scardy-cat kid he can find to frighten so he can feel better, but it doesn’t go exactly to plan.

Anyone familiar with Mo Willems knows that his books are adorable. They are silly, don’t take themselves too seriously, and are full of fun language and simple, engaging drawings that kids love, and Leonardo is no different. Best of all, underneath the silliness, there is a great lesson about friendship and empathy. The length is great for little bookworms, and it’s a lot of fun to read (one page in particular is a hilariously long and dramatic monologue for reading to a child). We can definitely recommend this one! Baby Bookworm approved!