The Friendship Surprise (Giorgio Volpe & Paolo Proietti)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Friendship Surprise by Giorgio Volpe and Paolo Proietti, translated by Angus Yuen-Killick, a lovely sequel to the author-illustrator pair’s previous book, Before We Sleep.

Little Red the fox is so excited – his best friend Hazel the dormouse is soon to wake from her winter hibernation, and Little Red is going planning his customary surprise for when she does. He worries though, because while Hazel was hibernating, he made a new friend – Brock the badger – and has been spending lots of time with him. He wonders briefly if his surprise should be introducing the two, but he worries that Hazel will like Brock more than him, and he will lose both friends by bringing them together. He resolves to keep spending time with both friends separately, but this leads to some suspicious behavior that puzzles both besties. How will Little Red resolve his friendship conundrum?

Lovely. Picking up where the heartwarming yet bittersweet Before We Sleep left off, Little Red and Hazel’s new story explores another classic theme of childhood friendship: navigating the meshing of friend groups. Little Red’s specific anxiety – that his two wonderful friends will only want to be friends with each other, pushing him out – gives this theme a fresh and empathetic twist, and one that may especially speak to readers with poor self esteem. It’s wonderful that both Hazel and Brock treat Little Red’s fear with delicacy and sincerity, proving that they are loyal friends. Volpe’s text and Killick’s translation are gentle and endearing, and Proietti’s soft pencil-style illustrations fit the tone and spring season setting perfectly. The length was great for a elementary storytime, and JJ really enjoyed it. Overall, a worthy sequel, and a delight all on its own. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

How to Find a Fox (Kate Gardner)

Hello, friends! Our book today is How to Find a Fox, written by Kate Gardner and photography by Ossi Saarinen, a gorgeous look at a popular species.

There a lots of places to find a fox: in the forest, in the meadow, and even in the city! You can look in the morning and the afternoon, but the best times are dusk and dawn. You can look year round, since foxes don’t hibernate, but don’t look in the rain – foxes stay out of bad weather! In order to find a fox, look for fast feet, fluffy tail, and amber eyes; be quiet and patient, and with a little luck, you can find a fox!

An exciting visual treat. Saarinen’s stunning wildlife photography sets a beautiful scene for a simplified lesson on vulpes vulpes; information is covered in short lines and conversational paragraphs. Some landscape photographs without fauna and pictures of other wildlife can feel a little extraneous, and occasionally confusing, particularly two that feature unidentified animals tracks after a spread on identifying a fox’s. Still, the eye-catching photos and easy-to-read text make this a fun way to explore a popular species. The length is fine for elementary readers, and JJ loved the pictures. For fans of foxes, a lovely way to learn and explore from a fox-eye-view, and we liked it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Before We Sleep (Giorgio Volpe & Paolo Proietti)

Hello, friends! Our book today Before We Sleep by Giorgio Volpe and Paolo Proietti, a soft and sweet tale of fall friendship.

Little Red the fox is excited for the change of seasons that brings fall – it means autumn colors to hide in and crunchy leaves to play with. The only thing that makes the fall even more fun is the time spent with Red’s best friend, Hazel the dormouse. The pair spend a marvelous fall frolicking and playing hide-and-seek. Yet as the air grows colder, Little Red begins to fret; soon winter will be here, and Hazel will go into hibernation, leaving Red all along until spring. Trying to think of ways to keep Hazel from hibernating, Red resorts to asking if Hazel will try to stay awake this year, but the dormouse gently replies that when spring has come again, they will be back together. Until then, they can enjoy the time they have by appreciating their best friend.

Very sweet. This Italian import explores themes of friendship, even through separation, in a gentle, tender, yet surprisingly honest fashion. And while the ending feels a little abrupt, it does leave the reader with the implication that even while Hazel hibernates, Red will be okay, if a little lonely, until spring. The text, with translation by Angus Yuen-Killick is filled with language that paints a beautiful autumnal story, and cleverly and subtly chooses not to gender either of the main characters. The soft, smoky lines of the pencil art is cozy yet moody, and captures the tone perfectly. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed it, even if she also felt the ending was a little unexpected. This is a different kind of tale, but one no less meaningful for it, and we liked it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

The Sunny Adventure (Ira Alice)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Sunny Adventure, written by Ira Alice and illustrated by Elena Teplova, a sweet tale of friendship.

A young fox named Redkin wakes up in her cozy den, nervous for the day; her mother has tasked her with hunting her own food for the first time, and bringing home dinner. Wondering how she should go about finding something delicious for her and her mother to eat, she notices the bright sun shining in the sky. It looks beautiful and warms her fur, and she wonders: perhaps the sun tastes as good as it feels! Determined to bring the sun home for dinner, Redkin sets off, but quickly finds herself in over her head in the unfamiliar forest. Stumbling into a swamp, she crosses paths with a small yet deceptively brave young toad named Loudcroak, who upon hearing Redkin’s quest to find the sun, offers to assist her in exchange for a tiny piece to eat as well. And so the two begin an adventure and a race against time, forming a surprising friendship along the way.

Charming. This indie early reader is a slightly longer title than we usually review, but the simple, straightforward language and easy-to-follow plot make it a solid choice for little ones beginning to tackle longer stories. There are some stumbles, mostly in logic: Redkin’s mother tells her to bring home her own food without ever teaching her how, and animals describe something as tasting like “warm pancakes” despite there being no indication of human interaction. Yet the story itself, while fairly basic, is quite sweet. Redkin and Loudcroak encounter several obstacles and other creatures, helping each other and forming a bond, one that is eventually tested when the two return to Redkin’s den and find that Loudcroak could technically be considered dinner (not to worry: the fox refuses to eat her new friend). It’s a pleasant, satisfying story, bolstered by some rather lovely illustrations of the characters against autumnal forest backdrops. The length was such that we had to take it in pieces for someone JJ’s level, but those ready to move to chapter books may enjoy this romp. Overall, it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller (Kate Read)


Hello, friends! Our book today is One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller by Kate Read, an exciting book of numbers for little readers.

One (1) famished fox has two (2) sly eyes, and the wily creature spots three (3) plump hens. As this barnyard thriller unfolds, we follow the dastardly fox as it plots against the hens, aiming to procure their five (5) delicious eggs. It sneaks into the henhouse that night, and the hens are started by ten (10) sharp teeth! Will this counting adventure end in tragedy? Or is there something in even greater numbers that awaits…

Colorful and clever. Read composes her simple yet entertaining story – with a wickedly funny twist – using a judicious economy of language, confining each page to a number, a descriptor, and the subject. It keeps things easy for the smallest reader while combining some core concepts of vocabulary and counting to build on. The colorful, collage-art style illustrations are pleasantly reminiscent of Carle, and burst with visual excitement against the simple backgrounds. And not to worry – the terrified chickens and their eggs make it out unharmed. The length was great, and JJ was delighted by the action and suspense of the story. This will definitely be a fresh favorite for young bookworms, and we recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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