Skyfishing (Gideon Sterer)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Skyfishing, written by Gideon Sterer and illustrated by Poly Bernatene, a unique take fantasy, fishing, and family.

When Grandpa moves in with his family in the city, he brings all of his fishing poles. Unfortunately, he quickly discovers what his granddaughter already knew: there aren’t many places to fish in the middle of a bustling metropolis. And while Grandpa tries to find new hobbies, nothing can quite replace his love of angling. So when spring rolls around, the girl has an idea: they will make-believe fish off the fire escape of their apartment. At first, they don’t catch anything at all, but soon they reel in… a plastic bag. They dub it a “flying litterfish”, and their new hobby is born. Together, they spend their time fishing for all manner of exotic city-dwelling fish, from hatfish to laundry eels to their “one that got away”: the subwayfish that lives deep underground. And by summertime, Grandpa is feeling ready to go “swimming” in the big ocean of city life.

Really lovely. While I have one minor complaint – it was unclear whether the pair were actually “catching” and reeling in other people’s belongings, which would be a bit rude – this was such a wonderfully different story with a moving lesson. When the grandfather loses a hobby that he’s clearly quite passionate about, the illustrations subtly show what a huge effect this has on his mood and outlook – a common issue with the elderly. Then, as his granddaughter engages him and encourages their imaginings together, he gains back his vigor. It’s a wonderful way of helping children identify with their older relatives and understand how to connect with them, and really sweet. The fantasy-driven illustrations are colorful and creative, inspiring a real sense of wonder. The length is fine, JJ enjoyed it, and this one was just very cool. Baby Bookworm approved!

Hooked (Tommy Greenwald)

Hello friends and Happy Father’s Day! Our review today is Hooked, written by Tommy Greenwald and illustrated by David McPhail, a fishing story of father and son.

To Joe, there’s no better way to spend a day than a fishing trip. He enjoys the peaceful quiet and being alone with his imagination. More than anything, Joe wants his dad to join him, but his dad always says no, protesting that it’s boring (and he doesn’t like worms). So Joe joins the town fishing group instead, and is excited to hear of the upcoming ice fishing trip – until the group leader says that he must be accompanied by an adult. Joe asks his father to join him, who agrees on one condition: he never has to go fishing with Joe again. But when the pair head out to the lake, Joe’s dad may find that fishing isn’t just about what you catch, but who you spend the day with.

I have mixed feelings on this one. On one hand, it ends up being a sweet story, where Joe’s father learns to appreciate fishing as time spent together, and Joe can finally share his hobby. The illustrations are darling, with a nostalgic storybook style. But honestly, I can’t get over what a jerk Joe’s dad at first! Yes, he eventually realizes his error, but the responses he gives to his son wanting to spend time with him – and the way the illustrations show how clearly heartbroken Joe is by them – are upsetting as a parent, and could be upsetting to young readers as well. It’s a judgement call for those who want to share this with their own little bookworms, but it quite frankly turned me off. Otherwise, the length was fine, and JJ enjoyed the illustrations. But overall, this is one we’ll throw back.

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

A Different Pond (Bao Phi)

Hello, friends! Today, we’re reviewing A Different Pond, written by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui, a quietly powerful story of family and fortitude.

A young boy wakes early with his father, both moving quietly so as not to wake the rest of the family. He helps his father load the car with their fishing supplies. They drive to the bait shop, where the owner remarks that they are up very early this morning. The boy’s father explains that he got a second job, and when he and the boy arrive at the lake, the boy wonders aloud: if his father has two jobs now, why must they still fish for food? The father explains that in America, everything is very expensive, and the boy helps him ready his line and light a fire for warmth. In the quiet solitude of the dark morning, the boy’s father tells him about the pond he would fish in when he was the boy’s age, with the brother he lost in the war. The boy and father catch enough fish, and return home to an apartment filled with the warmth and love of their family. The boy takes great pride in their bounty – he helped to provide dinner.

Wow. This was an incredible book. The story of father and son and their early-morning fishing trip is moving on many levels, but what makes it remarkable is its broad appeal across ages. The text on each page is chosen carefully, openly appealing and interesting to little ones yet conveying meaningful subtext to older readers in an economy of words. It’s beautiful and powerful, and leaves those of any age with much to think about. The art is perfect, capturing the mood and and emotions of the characters and environments in soft, soothing tones, making the reader feel as safe and at home as the little boy in the story. The length was fine for JJ, and we both loved it. This is a piece of art in picture book form, and a must-read for all ages. Baby Bookworm approved!

Edison’s Tackle Box (Meghan Colvin)

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

Hello, everybody! Today’s book is Edison’s Tackle Box, written by Meghan Colvin and illustrated by Cole Roberts, a sweet story about a boy, his dad, and a very special fishing trip.

Edison loves to fish, so when his dad wakes him and tells him to get his tackle box ready, he knows it’s going to be a great day. However, Edison’s never packed his own tackle box before. What will he need for the perfect day of fishing? He doesn’t want to mess it up by forgetting anything. But after Edison and his dad spend the day together, Edison realizes that the perfect day isn’t made by “whats”, but by “whos” instead.

This was a very cute book, with a simple concept and understated execution. It’s a classic father-son story, but the core lesson, that people are what make a perfect day, is applicable to anyone. The art was lovingly detailed and lively, a very pleasant surprise in a indie book, and does a great job of bringing the reader into Edison’s world. The pacing is a bit slow, but there’s a lot of charm in Edison’s earnest innocence and excitement, which makes up for it. Also, Edison and his dad catch-and-release their fish, which is nice for preventing some awkward conversations with little ones. JJ enjoyed it okay, but this one would be even better for slightly older readers who wouldn’t mind the longer story. Still, a lovely book with a sweet message. Baby Bookworm approved!

Fishing In The Air (Sharon Creech)

Hello, everyone! Our book today is Fishing In The Air, written by Sharon Creech and illustrated by Chris Raschka, a colorful and imaginative tale about the special bond between fathers and sons.

A little boy and his father leave early one morning, to go on an adventure to a secret place. As they travel and prepare, they talk and use their imaginations, and the world around them comes alive with colors. When they begin to fish, the father tells the boy about where he grew up, and how his own father taught him to fish. “Where are that father and son now?” the man asks. “They’re here,” the boy replies.

This was a really interesting book, sort of existential, told in the voice of a curious, imaginative child. The art is gorgeously colorful and vibrant, tying in with the dreamlike quality of the narrative. It’s definitely a sweet book about fathers and sons, and while it was a bit long for some baby bookworms, JJ seemed to enjoy it. Baby Bookworm approved!