Dark on Light (Dianne White)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dark on Light, written by Dianne White and illustrated by Felicita Sala, a poetic exploration of the colors and shape of the world post-sunset.

Three children venture out of their farmhouse at twilight, with boots and flashlights, on a mission to find their wandering dog. They tread boldly down a country trail, letting the light from the moon and stars – along with the beams of their own lights – guide them through fields of lavender, meadows, and woods. Finding their wayward pal, they all head home to be tucked into bed, as the dark and quiet night continues to watch over them.

Sedate and cozy. White’s restrained yet evocative poetry combines elegantly with Sala’s rich and engaging artwork to create a story that is as much about its setting as it is its characters. Both do a fantastic job of presenting a subtle and comforting concept – that darkness is not the absence of color or life, but that it only changes the shades in which we view it. For little ones nervous about the dark, this could be a nice reassurance: that the world is just as beautiful and welcoming in darkness as it is in light. The length is great for a storytime, and both JJ and I enjoyed it. Overall, a lovely read, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Green On Green (Dianne White)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Green On Green, written by Dianne White and illustrated by Felicita Sala, a lovely meditation on color, the seasons, and family.

As the seasons change around a quiet country home near the shore, the family that lives there – a father, mother, and son, along with their dog and horse – go about their lives. In spring, yellow flowers bloom, yellow bees buzz, and yellow lemonade sits on a table, fresh and cool; yellow on green is the color of spring. In summer, it’s blue on green: the blue of the seashore, the blue of the truck that carried friends and neighbors to the picnic, against the green of the grass and the deep water. So follows brown on green in autumn, with fall leaves and pies and spices. Winter brings white on green, in the snow and foggy breath. And when spring comes again, the green earth grows – and so does the little family.

Absolutely lovely. This heartwarming meditation on life, both that of one family’s as well as the earth as a whole, is filled with the simple, peaceful joys of the changing seasons through the young boy’s perspective. Quiet childhood moments such as reading a book in the summer shade or playing in a pumpkin patch are beautifully illustrated and paired with spare yet deeply evocative text; each scene is serene and comforting in its own way. Especially striking are the traditions between seasons, signaled by a single static element that carried across two pages: a boy’s feet in yellow galoshes becomes bare feet sprinting through ocean surf, etc. The subplot of the family welcoming a new baby is a perfect button, and though it is a bit strange that mom is noticeably pregnant for the entire year before the baby’s birth, it’s forgivable as younger readers will likely not notice the oddity. The length is perfect for any age, and JJ loved the soothing tone and gorgeous artwork. A gentle and tender tale that any reader will enjoy, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles (Patricia Valdez)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles, written by Patricia Valdez and illustrated by Felicita Sala, the story of the notable herpetologist and researcher.

From childhood, Joan loved nothing more than spending time with her reptiles. Snakes, turtles, lizards, and the baby crocodile she was given for her birthday; Joan loved the quiet, intelligent animals all. She would often spend her days in discussion with the curator of reptiles at the London Natural History Museum, who took Joan under his wing as a protege. When war came to England, Joan was offered a vacant position at the museum as the curator’s assistant; by the time the war had ended, she had been promoted to Reptile Curator. When the London Zoo decided to rebuild its reptile house, they consulted Joan, who designed a paradise for her scaly friends, including two Komodo Dragons that she formed a special bond with. Joan’s love of reptiles encouraged others to do the same, including passing on that love to the next generation of young zoologists.

Very interesting! I had never heard of Joan, but was immediately taken by her story. Obviously, a young girl having a passion for herpetology was considered highly unusual in early 20th century England, and while this is mentioned a few times, the story focuses less on her gender and more on her tireless work (I was surprised to learn in the appendix that she died so young, considering her wealth of contributions to the field). The art is really lovely, putting special focus on the reptiles, inviting the reader to see them through Joan’s eyes. The length is very manageable for a biography, and JJ loved all the animals. A wonderful story about a remarkable woman, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

On Our Way To Oyster Bay: Mother Jones And Her March For Children’s Rights (Monica Kulling)

Hello, friends! Today, we read On Our Way To Oyster Bay: Mother Jones And Her March For Children’s Rights, written by Monica Kulling and illustrated by Felicita Sala, a biographical picture book about Mary Harris Jones, a children’s and workers’ rights activist at the turn of the century (JJ and I were fortunate enough to win this book in a giveaway by GoodReads!). 

Aidan and Gussie are both child workers at the cotton mill, and they decide to join their fellow strikers to improve work conditions. They are excited, because famed activist Mother Jones is coming to join their campaign, but they are surprised to find that Mother Jones is a little old lady! However, as she organizes a protest march from Pennsylvania to Oyster Bay, New York, they soon find that Mother Jones is a passionate force for the rights of others.

This was a very interesting book! There were a lot of elements here that worked very well: as a biography, it gave the reader a good sense of Mother Jones and what she was like, both her kindness towards the children she was fighting for and the ferver of her belief in her cause. It’s also a great look at what life was like in th 1900’s, especially for children (the description of child labor is striking enough to make an impact on young readers, yet not so graphic as to be frightening). Lastly, it imparts a message of fighting for one’s beliefs, even in the face of difficulty or opposition. The illustrations are colorful and lively, and bring the time period and characters to life.

One point: this one is definitely too long for baby bookworms of JJ’s age, as she barely made it through without losing interest. However, this is a fantastic book that would be great for older readers, and I’m happy that it’s part of our library so that JJ can enjoy it again as she gets older! Baby Bookworm approved!