Sun and Moon Together (Ethan Long)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Sun and Moon Together by Ethan Long, the second title in the creator’s Happy County series.

Welcome back to Happy County, a busy and bustling little township filled with friends, facts, and fun. Once again structured in a digest-style narrative – featuring 18 chapters that run one or two pages each – readers spend two days with with residents of Happy County as they go about their days. Along the way, readers can learn vocabulary words, spot designs at a hot air balloon festival, learn about solar power, join a ssssavvy ssssnake ssssalesman, and much more.

Colorful and fun, but slightly uneven. Long’s Richard Scarry-inspired Happy County is just as wonderfully illustrated as before, with lots of details, visual gags, and nods to fans of the series’s previous book. However, the topics covered in each spread don’t have the same seamless flow that Hello, World! managed: while vocabulary pages, a collection of night sounds, and a cute mother-daughter tale of evening shadows are winners, the abrupt introduction of higher scientific concepts like the phases of the moon and photosynthesis fall short. These spreads feel either unnecessarily lengthy for the light and breezy narrative (a description of the water cycle stops a read-aloud dead), or far too brief to get a solid understanding of the material (how exactly do tides work?). This makes for an uneven storytime, though the length overall was still fine, and JJ loved the artwork; additionally, both text and illustrations are built for repeat perusals. Overall, not as cohesive as its predecessor, but still a colorful and enjoyable book for little readers. Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Hello, World! (Ethan Long)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Hello, World! by Ethan Long, first in the new fun and educational Happy County series.

Good morning, and welcome to Happy County, a bustling little town populated by anthropomorphic animals. Everyone is just waking up, but the town is already alive with energy: the mail carrier is delivering packages, Mr. Grizzles and Ms. Green are bird-watching, and Farmer Del is chasing down L’il Beaky the chick. In a town like this, there are plenty of stories to tell and plenty of things to learn and see, so let’s get started!

Delightful. This Scarry-inspired feast for the eyes is a fantastic blend of humor, vocabulary, storytelling, and meticulous illustration. Reading almost like a digest, each two-page spread has something new to offer, be it the sprawling scenes of music festivals or construction sites with words to learn or details to discover, or the individual stories such as Dottie the dog walker’s adventure (which doubles as a counting exercise), or Hannah the handywoman’s lesson in alliteration. The stories – both big and small – flow seamlessly together, making the reading experience feel like a cohesive story even as it covers a wide variety of topics and characters. Long’s cartoon illustrations are fun and full of personality, and the story’s length is brief, yet lends itself to hours of rereading and close perusal of the art for young readers. JJ really enjoyed this one, and we highly recommend it for little bookworms building their vocabulary! We look forward to seeing more of this series; Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Halloween Sky Ride (Elizabeth Spurr)

(Note: This review was delayed due to a family illness)

Halloween Week, Day 7: Happy Halloween! Unfortunately, we spent our Spooky Day this year feeling very, VERY under the weather, so no costumes or trick-or-treating for us. However, we did get to celebrate in one way: by reading our last Halloween Week book, Halloween Sky Ride, written by Elizabeth Spurr and illustrated by Ethan Long.

Witch Mildred is invited to the Witches’ Wobble, and she’s thrilled to attend. As she flies there on her broom, she passes several spooky creatures asking to catch a lift: a jack-o-lantern, a cat, a skeleton, etc. Witch Mildred kindly makes some space on her broom for everyone, until CRACK! Her broom snaps under the pressure. And so begins a spirited story of fun, festivities and friendship.

We loved this book! It was a perfect read for Halloween: fun and silly, but not too scary, adorable illustrations, and a cheerful rhyming narrative that was a delight to read. It explored lots of staples of the Halloween holiday (trick-or-treating, Halloween foods, etc), and still managed to have the excellent overall lesson that friendship is what makes the holidays so special. This is a perfect Halloween book for baby bookworms, and we highly recommend it for your next Spooky Day! Baby Bookworm approved!

Chamelia (Ethan Long)

Summer Reading Day 61: Our book today was Chamelia by Ethan Long, a story about a little chameleon girl who loves to stand out. As messages go, this book had sort of a complicated one: Chamelia is an original, and loves to be different from everyone else, but she lacks the understanding that her constant rebelling can affect others negatively. 

Honestly, I’m not sure how I felt about the conclusion that Chamelia needed to try to blend in with everyone else (she’s a chameleon, get it?) by giving up some of her individuality. It seemed very odd to me to tell a little girl to stop being too loud, or too colorful, or too independent. It felt, well, like a book written for little girls by a man who has never been one. I can’t say I would recommend this one. Girls should not be discouraged from being who they are, regardless of how loud, unique or different they may be.