Robin Robin (Dan Ojari & Mikey Please)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Robin Robin, written by Dan Ojari and Mikey Please, and illustrated by Briony May Smith, an adorable picture book retelling of the new holiday Netflix special of the same name.

When little Robin’s egg is found by a family of mice, they decide to raise the little bird as a part of their family. Robin loves her parents and siblings, and tries everything she can to be an excellent mouse, especially when the family ventures into the “Who-man” house to stealthily search for crumbs. Unfortunately, Robin isn’t particularly skilled at being stealthy, and the family nearly gets caught by a ferocious cat. Feeling out-of-sorts about the incident, Robin tries once more to be a sneaky as a mouse, a choice that will lead her on an adventure of discovery – about “Chrim-Cross” stars, about a clever collector magpie friend, and most importantly, about herself.

A lovely tale of blended family and self-identity. Robin eventually learns how to embrace her strengths as a bird to help her magpie pal and her beloved mouse family achieve their dreams; it’s a satisfying and affirming outcome, and a lovely message for readers who may themselves feel out of place or stuck between two worlds. The text features some fun repetitive lines that make the story entertaining to read aloud, and the rich artwork has a nice blended of traditional and modern storybook aesthetics. The length is fine for a storytime, and JJ really liked this one – so much so that she wanted to watch the special afterward. Overall, a sweet holiday treat that is light on the Christmas but heavy on themes of familial love and self-acceptance, and we loved. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

If Animals Celebrated Christmas (Ann Whitford Paul)

Hello, friends! We’re finishing up our slightly belated Christmas reviews today with the sweet board book version of If Animals Celebrated Christmas, written by Ann Whitford Paul and illustrated by David Walker.

This holiday-themed addition to the author-illustrator pair’s popular series begins with the Koala family, with the youngest of the bunch counting down the days until Christmas comes. More animal families from around the globe are introduced, each with their own special way of celebrating the season: the cranes go caroling, mother hedgehog knits a silly sweater for her little hoglet, the buffalo give nosey kisses under a sprig of mistletoe. The action periodically swings back to the young Koala helping to bake a leafy eucalyptus cake and drape their tree with strands of berries and grapes. At last, everyone is ready for the big night, and the arrival of Santa… Polar Bear Santa that is (naturally)!

Very cute. Each installment of the If Animals series is a sweet treat, and this holiday-centric one is no exception. The cuddly, cartoony animals are lovable, especially decked in winter attire and participating in popular (human) Christmas traditions. The rhyme scheme of the text can be a little unexpected at times, but never so much that it loses the innocent, inoffensive and gentle charm of the tone. JJ enjoyed this one, especially learning a few new or less familiar animal names, such as Oryx or Tortoise (though it’s a bit of a bummer that a fascinating creature like the narwhal was depicted but not named). Overall, this is enjoyable holiday fun, and worth a 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.)

Queen Of The Hanukkah Dosas (Pamela Ehrenberg)

Hello, friends! Our review today is the festive and fun Queen Of The Hanukkah Dosas, written by Pamela Ehrenberg and illustrated by Anjan Sarkar.

A young boy is concerned about his family’s tradition. See, every year, his mixed-race family blends their traditions together, making Indian dosas to celebrate Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. But this year, he is worried that his toddler-aged sister Sadie, who has recently taken up a major interesting in climbing, will ruin everything. He voices his concerns to his mom, his dad, his Amma-Amma, but no one seems to take it too seriously. Then just as the boy predicted, Sadie creates a ruckus at the Indian market by climbing a tower of caned coconut milk. Thinking quickly, the boy makes up a ditty to the tune of the Dreidel Song: “I had a little dosa, I made it out of dal”. This delights Sadie, and she agrees to come down. Again and again, as the family makes the dosas together over the next two days, the boy uses his special song to help keep Sadie away from the dosas and out of harm’s way. That is until the whole family accidentally get locked out of the house – with the dosas still cooking! Suddenly, Sadie’s climbing may be their only hope – and the boy’s song be the best chance of helping.

Adorable. A wonderfully unique story and characters, an entertaining and engaging plot, and a lovely depiction of two cultures coming together with one family. The art is colorful, with friendly-faces characters yet fine attention to detail where the cooking and Hanukkah celebrations are concerned. There’s even recipes for dosas and sambar in the back. The length is perfect, JJ and I loved it, and we definitely 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.)

The Lost Gift: A Christmas Story (Kallie George & Stephanie Graegin)

Hello, friends! Our holiday countdown week continues with The Lost Gift: A Christmas Story by Kallie George and Stephanie Graegin, a wonderfully cute tale of selfless kindness.

It’s Christmas Eve, and four friends – Deer, Rabbit, Bird, and Squirrel – have gathered on Merry Woods Hill to watch Santa fly overhead. As they see the jolly figure fly by in his sleigh, they watch as a gust of wind knocks loose one of his presents and sends it to the Earth. When Santa does not come back for it, the friends decide to investigate (with the exception of Squirrel, who is adamantly opposed to getting involved in any way). The friends locate the gift and find that it is for the new baby at the nearby farm, her very first gift for her very first Christmas. The friends (even the reluctant Squirrel) decide to deliver the present themselves – it’s what Santa would want! But the terrain is snowy, and the farm is a long walk away. Can the friends make the delivery in time for Christmas?

This is pure, sugary Christmas sweetness and I adored it. The animals’ selfless kindness and generosity (which is repaid by a grateful Santa), the adorable interactions between the guileless friends, the sense of hope and goodwill the story produces by its end – this is a perfect story to put little readers in the mood for Christmas. The illustrations are darling, the woodland pals in their winter scarves enormously endearing in every scene. The length is fine, and JJ loved it as well. This would make a great gift and/or a fabulous Christmas Eve read, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

The 12 Days Of Christmas (Greg Pizzoli)

Hello, friends! It’s officially December, and we’re kicking off the holiday season by reviewing The 12 Days Of Christmas by Greg Pizzoli, a hilarious send-up of the classic Christmas carol and its inconvenient implications.

On the first day of Christmas, one elephant gives their best pal a partridge in a pear tree. What a lovely gift! The second day brings two turtledoves, then three French hens on the third. Hmm… that’s a lot of fowl for one household. Oh, and here comes four calling birds as well. The parent of the gifts’ recipient is beginning to wonder if they should invest in some bulk birdseed, not to mention when this barrage of birds is coming to an end. Surely there can’t be too many more… can there?

This one was festive, silly, and wonderful – a winning combination! Using the lyrics of the traditional carol, Pizzoli illustrates some marvelously colorful and riotously hectic scenes. The expressions on the parent elephant’s face are hysterical, going from happy to puzzled to annoyed to frantic to completely overwhelmed as the musical menagerie slowly takes over their home. True story: as a child, I always wondered who was giving these ridiculous gifts, and how one person was supposed to accommodate them all, and why were so many of them BIRDS?! So to me, this felt like an fantastic inside joke to adults (especially those who know the irritation of dealing with inconvenient gifts that your children LOVE) as well as a vibrant and energetic interpretation for little ones. Great length, and JJ was enthusiastically singing along all the way through. A fantastic twist on a classic that will bring some serious smiles to everyone’s face. Baby Bookworm approved!

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