Mighty, Mighty Construction Site (Sherri Duskey Rinker & Tom Lichtenheld)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the charming Mighty, Mighty Construction Site, written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, a fun and informative story about construction vehicles, cooperation, and teamwork.

The team from Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site wakes up to a brand new day, stretching, fueling up and getting ready to build. When they unfurl the blueprint, they are in awe; it’s their biggest project yet! They’re not sure that their little five-vehicle team can do it alone, so they call in help: a whole fleet of construction vehicles and heavy machinery! All the machines work together to build their project, each one bringing something special to the job. And when the day is done, they may be worn out, but by working together, they’ve gotten the job done in no time flat.

This was a phenomenal book for little readers who are interested in big vehicles! In cheerful rhyming text, each machine is named and has a description of the function they perform, including some trucks I’d never even heard of! I also love that beyond the vehicles themselves, hard work and cooperation are stressed as main themes, showing children that everyone brings something to the table and working together is the best way to achieve one’s goals. The illustrations are adorable, and give endearing personality to each machine. The length is good, and JJ and I enjoyed it! Rinker and Lichtenheld’s collaborations are always a delight, and this one does not disappoint. Baby Bookworm approved!

Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel (Virginia Lee Burton)

Hello, everybody! For today, we thought we’d review a classic: Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton, a timeless story of perseverance, loyalty, and kindness.

Mike Mulligan and his beloved steam shovel Mary Anne have traveled the country together, digging canals, mountain railroads, highways, and basements for the tallest skyscrapers in the world. The best friends are the hardest of workers, but the age of the steam shovel is coming to a close; diesel, gas, and electric shovels are taking over. Many folks are tossing their steam shovels or scrapping them for parts, but Mike just can’t do that to Mary Anne. Fortunately, he and Mary Anne find out about one last job they can do together, digging a basement for a city hall. Believing in his and Mary Anne’s teamwork, he offers to dig the whole basement in a day, or their work is free! Can Mike and Mary Anne rise to the challenge, and prove that they are the best diggers for the job?

For a book just shy of 80 years old, it’s wonderful how well this classic has held up over the years, in some ways being very ahead of its time. A book about heavy machinery written by a female author at the time was rare, and the decision to make Mary Anne a “female” character is still rare today. The illustrations are quaint, very reminiscent of their era but still full of character, especially Mary Anne. But the heart and soul of the story are the lessons: friendship, kindness to others, loyalty and hard work are all explored and tied together with a sweet ending. I will say one thing: it’s WAY too long for baby bookworms. This is definitely one for more patient, and slightly older, readers. But it is still a wonderful story that every child should experience, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

Firebird (Misty Copeland)

Hello, friends! Today, we read Firebird, written by Misty Copeland and illustrated by Christopher Myers, a gorgeously unique ballerina book to inspire young dreamers.

An abstractly autobiographical story, Copeland, the first African-American ballerina to become a principal dancer of the American Ballet Theater, uses the story of her own rise to encourage a young dancer struggling with confidence. The girl believes that Misty’s success and talent are an unachievable goal for someone like her. Misty denies this, relating that she once stood in the girl’s ballet slippers, and that hard work, dedication, and belief in herself is what made her great. She shows the girl that with these qualities, she too will shine bright as a Firebird, and inspire the next generation of dreamers that follows.

This book was fabulous. On the surface, it’s a classic lesson in achieving through work and perseverance, made all the more authentic due to its author. More than this, though, it is a wholly unique ballerina book that injects a little style and color into a well-worn genre. As Copeland notes in her afterward, while there are plenty of books about ballerinas, there are very few about ballerinas who look like her, and she wanted to write a book for them. The stylistic, lyrical text and bright, vibrant hues of the illustrations join the story in celebrating dancers of color (including boys in the final pages, a lovely surprise!) in a way that departs from the prim, pastel images of most ballet books, giving it a vibrancy that these stories can lack. The length was great for little ones, and JJ adored the story and art. If you’re looking for a ballerina book that breaks the mold, this is it. We loved it, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Grace For President (Kelly DiPucchio)

Summer Reading Day 82: Hey everyone! In the spirit of Women’s Equality Day, today we read Grace For President, written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. In it, a little girl named Grace learns that there has never been a woman president, and decides that she will run for president someday. Her teacher decides to put together an election for class president, and Grace finds that her opponent is one of the most accomplished and popular boys in school. Grace decides to try her hardest, though: she campaigns, talks to students about what they want and builds a political platform, then does her best to convince everyone that she would be the best “man” for the job.

This was such an awesome book, especially during election time. First, it explains the electoral college and gives a crash course in how candidates campaign for young readers. But what we really loved was the message: girls are just as capable and deserving of holding public office, including the presidency, as boys are, especially if they work hard and earn it. Grace’s opponent realizes early on that the boys in their class have more electoral votes than the girls, and coasts on the presumption that he will win based on this. The books shows that it is Grace’s tireless dedication to the school that ensures her win, and that’s a great message as well, that winning an election cannot just be about popularity, it’s about who is best for the job. Lastly, Grace is a female POC character, and a fantastic fictional representation of both.

The length was great for Baby Bookworm, and she LOVED the simple and colorful animation-style illustrations. Overall, this is a fantastic book, and absolutely Baby Bookworm approved!