Mouse Calls (Anne Marie Pace)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Mouse Calls, written by Anne Marie Pace and illustrated by Erin Kraan, a lovely mashup of wordplay and community support.

After a spotting a mighty storm over the sea with her spyglass, Mouse rushes off to inform the animal citizens of her coastal community. Mouse calls Moose, who calls Goose, who calls Dog and Hog and Hare. This haphazard game of telephone continues as the message of the storm spreads through the grapevine, and the artwork periodically checks in on the creatures as they gather in a cave for shelter. At last, when every last animal has found their way to safety, the friends band together to thank Mouse for her courage and consideration.

Heartwarming fun. The bouncy, rhythmic text is based entirely on fun wordplay surrounding the names of animal species, pairing unexpected characters like Loon and Raccoon, or Kangaroo and Caribou, and it’s a delight to read aloud. It pairs well with Kraan’s charmingly quirky illustrations, which fill each character with personality by way of their wardrobe or hobbies. The repeating visual of the cave filling up with the neighbor animals is wonderful, and it’s fun to pick out all the animals the reader has met so far and see how they are interacting. Furthermore, the ending ties together on a nice message of community banding together in times of trouble and taking care of one another. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ and I both loved this one. A delightful must-read that bookworms of any age can enjoy, abd it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Nerdycorn (Andrew Root)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Nerdycorn, written by Andrew Root and illustrated by Erin Kraan, a sweet and science-y tale of forgiveness.

We open on a magical land of unicorns, where there are lovely rainbows to leap spectacularly over and waterfalls to splash majestically through. And most of the local unicorn population are content to do just that, but Fern has always been a little… different. She prefers to build robots, conduct chemistry experiments, code computer programs, and read science textbooks and manuals. And while she might be different, Fern is proud of who she is: in addition to being smart, she is also a good friend who always tries to help others. However, the other unicorns are not very good friends: they make fun of Fern and call her “Nerdycorn”. Hurt, Fern goes on strike, refusing to help them with their technical issues and mechanical problems anymore. Soon, the other unicorns begin to realize how important Fern’s knowledge – and her generous spirit – was to all of them. But is it too late to make amends?

Delightful and empowering. From the outside, this looked to be another story of an outcast interested in STEM learning to be proud of their intelligence and curiosity, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that Fern already WAS so, and that her self-confidence never wavered. Instead, the story is a tale of the power of forgiveness: when the unicorns apologize to Fern and beg her help with the Sparkle Dance, she initially rebuffs them, but ultimately decides that forgiveness is also part of being a good friend (it helps that the other unicorns show genuine remorse, and begin to take their own interest in Fern’s “nerdy” pursuits afterward). The colorful illustrations are engaging and fun yet never visually overwhelming, a nice balance, and the attention to details on Fern’s scientific and engineering instruments is awesome. The length is perfect, and JJ loved this one. A sweet reminder of the importance of kindness as well as the power to be found in being “different”, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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