Stella, Star Explorer (Kelly Leigh Miller)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Stella, Star Explorer by Kelly Leigh Miller, a trip through our solar system that combines practical knowledge and new perspectives (as well as a few laughs) along the way.

Stella LOVES space. She dreams of exploring the cosmos, the galaxies, and of any planet in the universe… except, that is, for dirty, boring old Earth. Deciding she needs a change, Stella and her dog don their spacesuits, say goodbye to Stella’s parents, and blast off on an interplanetary adventure. It doesn’t take long before she makes a new friend: a green, seven-limbed fellow explorer named Io and his purple snake/cat pet Mimas. The pair have gotten lost looking for a very special planet, but Io cannot remember its name! Determined to help, Stella takes him on a tour of the solar system to help narrow the search – but is surprised to find that his destination is a familiar one!

A wonderful mix of fact and fun. Stella’s tour of the solar system does a great job of incorporating true factoids about each of the planets while also providing simple comedy that engages young readers. Best of all, the ending of the story really brings home a nice lesson on appreciating the things we have – especially our own fascinating, unique, and special planet – with a continued thirst for exploration and knowledge. Miller’s cartoonish illustrations are wonderful, with colorful and detailed settings and characters both land-based and intergalactic. Diverse representation is nicely integrated – Stella is coded as East Asian, her caregivers present as a queer, mixed-race family, and other background characters reflect a small variety of skintones, body types, and hair textures. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved the adorable artwork and uplifting story. Overall, this one is a treat, and we really enjoyed 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.)

Almost Always Best, Best Friends (Apryl Stott)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Almost Always Best, Best Friends by Apryl Stott, a sweet tale of friendship and communication.

Poppy the tiger and Clementine the llama (alpaca? sheep? adorable and fluffy regardless) are best, best friends. They love to spend the day together – playing, doing experiments, baking, and working on their bookmark-crafting business. One afternoon, Clementine is playing at the house of a new friend, Georgia, and Poppy is nervous that Clem will like Georgia better. When Clementine returns singing the praises of Georgia, Poppy feels betrayed and insecure, and lashes out. Can Poppy and Clementine repair their relationship, or is this the end of the best, best friends?

Heartwarming. Little bookworms’ friendships can often be plagued by jealousy, especially when a new figure upsets the status quo of an established friendship. In addition to exploring the idea that friendship is not a finite resource, and that best friends can come in threes just as well as twos, Stott also nicely works in a lesson on communicating feelings and the use of “I” statements (“I feel… when… because… What I need is…”). An extremely effective approach to conflict resolution, Stott introduces it in simple terms and shows how helpful it can be when trying to work out disagreements. Beyond that, the lovely watercolor and digital art is bursting with life and character (and flowers!), the length is great for an elementary storytime, and JJ enjoyed it. This is a gentle yet functional look at friendship dynamics for little ones, and we liked it a lot. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

No Nibbling! (Beth Ferry)

Hello, friends! Our book today is No Nibbling!, written by Beth Ferry and illustrated by A.N. Kang, a tale of unlikely friendship and delicious vegetables.

Derwood the goat is eager for the spring planting of his garden, and spends a warm day digging, seeding, planting, and watering – now to wait. Yet Derwood notices something: the fluffy puff of a dandelion, which sends him into a frenzy of pest- and weed-prevention. The dandelion puff, however, turns out to be the tail of a young bunny, Tabitha, who cheerfully introduces herself and inquires about his crop. Derwood tells her to take a hike, and when she returns to drop hints on the appeal of his growing veggie garden, he repeatedly warns her, “No Nibbling!” Tabitha persists in her overtures of friendship (and compliments of his crop), one day offering to weed the garden so that Derwood can rest. But will the old goat trust the hungry bunny with his precious patch?

Cute. A tale of reluctant friendship between an old goat (here, literally) and a precocious youngster is a pretty classic theme, and Ferry puts a pleasing veggie/gardening spin on it here. Derwood’s turnabout on his opinion of Tabitha feels a little abrupt, but the little bunny is so endearingly sweet that it’s still understandable. A plethora of plant- and vegetable-related puns are worked into the text to great comedic effect, though some may fly over younger readers’ heads (“Romaine calm,” for example). Kang’s delightful illustrations capture the colors and spirit of spring, two very cute characters, and some delicious-looking veggies. The length was great for a storytime, and we enjoyed it overall. Worth a read, and Baby Bookworm approved!

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

A Friend for Yoga Bunny (Brian Russo)

Hello, friends! Our book today is A Friend for Yoga Bunny by Brian Russo, a sweet and serene follow up to the author’s first Yoga Bunny story.

Bunny’s favorite way to start the morning is by doing yoga. Sometimes he’ll do it with his group of similarly yoga-inclined forest pals, but sometimes he’ll take the morning to practice alone – or, mostly alone! Opening his eyes during his leaf pose, he is surprised to find a bear hiding behind a tree nearby. He finds that the bear’s birthday is tomorrow, and she is nervous about the big party her family is throwing her (she doesn’t like being the center of attention). Bunny offers to instruct her in a few yoga poses, promising that they might help with her anxiety. The two practice their poses and have a few laughs, and Bunny invites her to join him and his friends the next day, even knowing she is nervous in groups. The next day dawns, and Bear is nowhere to be found; Bunny is disappointed. However, as he breathes through his morning routine with his friends, he may be surprised with how effective his gesture of friendship (and yoga) has been.

Lovely! Russo has created a new story with his gentle, yoga-loving bunny character that explores themes of kindness, courage, and yes, yoga. A story centered around yoga’s ability to help with anxieties is reminiscent of the first Yoga Bunny, but this time Bunny plays a less passive role in helping his new friend by proactively reaching out to Bear to show kindness and acceptance, and it works all the better. The digital illustrations are suitably soft-edged and calming, and the character design is rudimentary, but still very adorable; Yoga Bunny showing off different labeled yoga poses on the endpapers – a element continued from the first book – is particularly fun. The length is perfect for a quick storytime, and JJ really enjoyed it, especially a cute “yoga poses with accompanying animal sounds” moment. Overall, a very enjoyable read, and we absolutely recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Tummy Time! (Mama Makes Books)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Tummy Time! by Mama Makes Books, an interactive board book for the very youngest of bookworms!

For the first six months of baby’s life, their eyesight is still developing the ability to see the world the way adults do. During this time, babies are drawn to high-contrast black-and-white images, human faces, and eventually bright colors. This clever little title takes advantage of those helpful developmental qualities and creates a fold-out book that babies can enjoy with a caregiver, or especially during tummy time!

An awesome idea! As anyone who’s been through the early infancy stage of parenting knows, babies are absolutely drawn to faces and high-contrast images, which in turn leads to healthy eye development. With a series of simple images – high-contrast illustrations, pictures of babies, and even a mirror page so babies can view themselves while developing visual acuity, as well as head, neck, and other muscles during tummy time. There is minimal text, making this less of a story and more of an activity, but the layout, concertina binding, and perfect weight of the board (not too light as to be flimsy, and not too heavy as to pose a rise to infants) make it an ideal tummy time or early-reading experience. One note: this one is definitely not waterproof, and will likely not stand up long to little chewers and chompers. But as a fun, safe, easily-portable, electronic-free activity for infants, this is a brilliant idea with fantastic execution. Baby Bookworm approved!

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