Time to Fly (George Ella Lyon)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Time to Fly, written by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman, a classic story of learning to spread one’s wings.

Upon realizing that its siblings have left the nest, a young robin wonders where they’ve gone. “They took off, said my mother. You’ve outgrown this woven home.” And though Mother Robin does everything she can to convince her fledgling that the time has come to spreads its own wings, the young bird remains unconvinced of the importance of mastering flight; “Nest is best,” it insists. How will Mother Robin prove to her little one that, while the next step may be scary, it can be wonderfully empowering as well?

Sweet. Baby bird leaving the nest as a metaphor for growing up isn’t a particularly groundbreaking framework for a story, but Lyon’s cheerful, rhythmic text and Coleman’s charming illustrations combine to create an enjoyable interpretation of the trope, especially for young readers who may be leaving the safety of their own nests very soon to start school. Still, some of the story’s elements become confusing within the context of this metaphor, such as the idea that the young robin’s nest will not be a place of safety forever due to hawks (in contrast to a child’s own home typically portrayed as a constant of security). Otherwise, the length is fine for a storytime, JJ liked the interplay between the mother and baby bird, and this was overall an enjoyable read. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

All You Need (Howard Schwartz)

Hello, friends! Sorry we missed you the past few days – we had some family commitments that we couldn’t miss. To make it up to you, we have two special weekend reviews today and tomorrow! Our book today is All You Need, written by Howard Schwartz and illustrated by Jasu Hu, a beautiful ode to the simple necessities of life.

“All you need,” the spare verse begins, weaving a quiet contemplation of the things one needs for life. A planet, a warm sun, clouds to gather rains, trees to clean the air. Good food, fresh water, plenty of sleep. A land of welcome and people to watch over you. The freedom and ability to share your lovely thoughts and the beating heart to give you life. What a person truly needs is simple, really – life, love, health, and joy.

Beautiful. Schwartz and Hu do something rare here: telling two different stories through the text and art that weave together beautifully in theme and tone. Schwartz’s uncomplicated free verse poetry highlights the theme of simplicity, neatly choosing a list of needs that is both almost entirely accurate and evocative of emotion. The story Hu tells with the stunning watercolor artwork reflects the early life story of a young child in China, growing amongst beautiful scenery and loving family before striking out into adulthood, yet maintaining a connection to home. These elements all combine to tell a heartwarming story about life, connection, nature, culture, and love, and the result is breathtaking. The length is great for a storytime at any age, and JJ adored the dreamlike artwork and easy-to-read text. Overall, this one is an absolute work of art, and we loved 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.)

Piper and Purpa Forever! (Susan Lendroth)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Piper and Purpa Forever!, written by Susan Lendroth and illustrated by Olivia Feng, a sweet story of growing up and coping with change.

From the moment Piper saw the knit purple sweater in the box of hand-me-downs, she fell in love – before she could even pronounce the word “purple”. Her exclamation – “PURPA!” – became the nickname of her beloved sweater. When she first wore it, it came down past her knees, but she didn’t care. It was an outfit, a cape, a Halloween costume (three years in a row), and a cozy, familiar friend. So when Piper’s family, and eventually Piper herself, realize that she is rapidly outgrowing Purpa, what can be done?

Like a favorite sweater, soft and comforting. I’m a big fan of when children’s books give actionable solutions while connecting with common struggles and imparting life lessons, and Lendroth’s simple yet sweet story does both beautifully. Readers are not only given a subtle yet universal lesson on growing up – that it’s unavoidable but part of life, and we can still carry our childhood memories with us – to child readers, while also giving a very specific and helpful idea to adult readers on how to preserve a child’s favorite outfit once it’s been outgrown. Feng’s colorful digital illustrations have warmth and childlike energy, yet minimal diversity; a few of Piper’s classmates in the final spread have features that suggest they are POC, but every other character presents white. Otherwise, the length was great for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed Piper and Purpa’s tale. This was a fun and heartwarming read, and we can definitely recommend it, especially for readers going through similar challenges as they get bigger. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

In My Life (John Lennon & Paul McCartney)

Hello, friends! Our book today is In My Life, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, illustrated by Genevieve Santos, a picture book interpretation of the classic Beatles song.

Following the lyrics of the timeless ballad “In My Life”, the artwork opens on a young curly-haired girl discovering a brand new bike with training wheels, and taking it for a spin with an older female character (their relationship is never explicitly defined, but context suggests she is the girl’s mother or caregiver). The girl is shown adventuring on her bike all over their seaside setting: exploring, playing, discovering; sometimes with her companion, sometimes alone. As she grows, her bike changes – losing training wheels, becoming a larger model, changing out colors and handlebars. The girl is shown attending college, commuting through city streets, then returning to the seaside town with her own young daughter in tow (on her bike’s new child seat, naturally). They have someone to visit… and a new bike to try out, so all three girls can begin exploring anew.

Heartwarming, if occasionally puzzling. While “In My Life” is quite possibly one of the most universally affecting Beatles songs, the lyrics do feature the word “lovers” repeatedly, a word which is, frankly, odd to read in a children’s book in its intended context (we chose to “sing” the book through, and I’m afraid it didn’t make those lines any less awkward). That being said, the sweet and gentle story told by the artwork is lovely to behold, as Santo’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations are gorgeous and atmospheric, and the use of color to set each scene’s tone is stunning. The length is great for a storytime, JJ loved that we could sing it, and I won’t lie: the final few pages got me a little choked up and teary-eyed. A few hiccups, but overall a lovely and moving reimagining that music-lovers in particular will adore. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Littles, And How They Grow (Kelly DiPucchio)

Hello, friends! Today’s review is the sentimental and sweet Littles, And How They Grow, written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by AG Ford, a lovely book of about growing babies.

There are so many special things about Littles (little babies, that is): their little toys, their little smiles, their little clothes that show off their adorable dimpled knees. There are Little books, Little games, and wonderfully messy Little meals. Most of all, there are lots of friends and family who love their Little so very much. And all too quickly, all those Littles, with their giggles and tantrums and naps and cuddles, are not-so-little anymore.

There’s a grand tradition of books about babies becoming big kids, and this is a welcome addition to it. Sweet, simple rhymes and universal reflections on all the magical things about babies create a warm and gentle story that’s fun to read. And the illustrations, in addition to being appropriately adorable, are fantastically inclusive. LGBTQ, multicultural, mixed-race, and non-traditional families are shown raising babies of many ethnicities, and there was a wonderfully welcome illustration of a baby nursing that can help teach children about breastfeeding. The length was great, and JJ adored all the little babies and their antics. A sweet celebration of the joy of watching babies grow, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!