You’re My Little Baby (Eric Carle)

Hello, friends! Our book today is You’re My Little Baby by Eric Carle, a touch-and-feel board book featuring the timelessly charming artwork of the beloved children’s author and illustrator.

With parent as narrator, this simple title compares the reader’s little baby to the adorable offspring of other creatures; they are playful and shy like a bear cub, gentle and sweet like a lamb, soft and new like a fuzzy duckling. Alongside are a parent’s promises to their little one: that they will be carried and “loved through and through”. Touch-and-feel elements accompany Carle’s depictions of parent-and-child animal pairs, ending in a final mirrored page that allows for parents and their little babies to become part of the story.

Generic yet sweet. Carle’s signature illustrations are easily the highlight of this baby/toddler-aged title, endearing animal pairs set against spare white backgrounds that appeal to both babies and their caregivers. The rhyming text is easily read aloud and similarly winsome, if a touch basic. The touch-and-feel elements are hit and miss: a delightfully fleecy sheep and bushy lift-a-flap hiding a bear cub are standouts, but others are bland and feel tacked-on. Still, the length is perfect for the littlest bookworms, and JJ and I enjoyed the elements that worked immensely. Nothing groundbreaking, but a charming title all the same, and one that’s sure to please. 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’s Your Favorite Color? (Eric Carle & Friends)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the visually stunning What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle & Friends, a gorgeous collaboration of fifteen of the most beloved children’s book illustrators on their favorite colors.

What’s your favorite color? Is it yellow, like The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Eric Carle? He likes yellow because it is often the color of the sun in children’s drawings. Or is it green, like Philip C. Stead, who likes to imagine that many things can be green, even an elephant if he really feels like it. How about the late, lovely Anna Dewdney’s favorite: purple, the color of her favorite childhood outfit and the peacocks she dreamed of having one day. Or is it blue like Bryan Collier, who is reminded of his daughter whenever there are rainy days and blue balloons. Everyone has colors that are special to them, even many colors, or all the colors! How about you? What’s YOUR favorite color?

Absolutely stunning. For kidlit nerds like me who absolutely love picture book illustrations, this is quite simply a treasure trove. Each color-inspired spread is unique, personal, and visually striking, from Mike Curato’s raccoon enjoying a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone to Frann Preston-Gannon’s vibrant orange tiger hidden in grass to Jill McElmurry’s hauntingly beautiful black garden. The short blurbs that the artists have written to accompany the colors are sometimes funny, sometimes touching; all of them will make you consider each color from a different perspective. The length was fine, and JJ and I both adored it – this was even the first color book in which JJ was able to distinguish between gray and black, and the first time I’ve heard her use “black” properly! A feast for the eyes for readers of every age, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Friends (Eric Carle)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is Friends by Eric Carle, the story of two friends separated by distance and fate coming together again.

A little boy and girl are best friends. They do everything together and spend every waking moment in each other’s company. That is, until the girl moves far away, and the boy find himself lonely as he misses his friend. So the boy sets out on a journey, over mountains, across rivers, and threw snow and rain to be with his friend again. At last, he finds his friend, and it’s as though they are never apart: they once again play together, laugh together, and even get married.

I think it’s pretty widely accepted that Eric Carle is one of the great masters of children’s literature, so it’s hard to be critical of his work, but this one was a bit of a letdown for us. Much of the art is simply not Carle’s best: the majority of the book is dominated by two-page spreads that offer nothing but abstract colors meant to represent a river, a field, a rainstorm, etc. They are very minimal and offer no detail, and JJ was pretty unimpressed with them. The story is enjoyable, but the twist ending is just a bit odd. The concept of children marrying each other feels very strange in general, and when combined with the post-script of a photo of the author and his childhood friend, who did move away but whom he never reconnected with, it’s a bit confusing for little ones and adult readers alike. The length is fine but, as I mentioned, the art isn’t very engaging, and JJ started getting antsy around 2/3 through. So while Carle’s body of work boasts many, many gems, this one just isn’t one of our favorites.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle)

Banned Books Week Day 6: Hello, friends! Today, our banned book is another favorite from our own library, the classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. This fun and educational staple that explores colors and animals using repetition and rhyme has been a favorite of baby bookworms since it was released in 1967, including JJ. She adores Carle’s simple and colorful illustrations, and the text is fun and easy to read, plus the length is perfect for babies her age.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear definitely has the most ridiculous reason for being banned: in 2010, the book was removed from Texas public schools after a ban had been placed on the books of Bill Martin, who had written a philosophical examination of Marxism. Because a state board member had failed to do proper research on the fact that Bill Martin and Bill Martin Jr. were TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PEOPLE, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, which has frequently been cited by early education experts as being one of the best books to teach speech and literacy to young readers, was denied to children in the entire state of Texas.

This story is a perfect example of why banning books is so problematic: the opinions and preferences of a small group of people can deprive readers of books that can be essential to their development. The gut-reaction of the Texas School Board members, and the failure to do basic research into the authors and books that were being banned, deprived young children of an American classic.

So, exercise your right to read a banned book! We can definitely recommend Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? for your own little one! Baby Bookworm approved!