Little Seed (Benson Shum)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Little Seed by Benson Shum, a sweet board book about sharing snuggles.

Every morning, Little Seed wakes to a great big hug from Mama Earth. While Little Seed loves hugs and wants to hug the whole world, they lament that their arms are too small for such a task. Mama Earth reassures them that while Little Seed’s arms are small, their heart is big. Seeing friends in need of comfort, Little Seed heads out to give hugs, always being respectful of what kind of hugs his friends enjoy. At last, they settle in with Mama Earth again, and she asks how Little Seed will hug tomorrow. “With all my heart”, they reply.

Adorable and considerate. Little Seed’s hugging partners – mostly baby animals just as adorable as they are – present precious riddles, like how one should hug a panda, for instance. Each solution is fun and endearingly illustrated, and the characters of Little Seed and the dark-skinned, flora-winged Mama Earth are particularly lovely. I especially loved that Little Seed’s hugs varied to respect his friends’ preferences, such as slowly and gently hugging timid Lion Cub or forgoing a hug entirely and respecting Armadillo’s space. This sets a great example for young bookworms on bodily autonomy, both in open expression of one’s comfort with touch and being respectful of others’ touch preferences. The length is perfect for a quick storytime, and JJ really enjoyed this one. A great little board book with a lot of a heart and some great lessons, and we highly 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.)

Bird Hugs (Ged Adamson)

Hello, friends! The Baby Bookworm household has been down with another bug, so we’re happy to be back today with a review of the lovely Bird Hugs by Ged Adamson.

Bernard is different from the other birds. When he was a baby, he didn’t realize it; he just enjoyed playing with his friends on the ground and in the trees. When his friends began to fly, however, it became clear: Bernard’s extra-long wings – both of them many times the size of his small, round body – make flight impossible. Watching as his friends frolic through the sky, Bernard wallows in disappointment, particularly after a series of failed attempts to circumvent his impairment. But one day, he hears someone crying: an orangutan who feels inexplicable sorrow. Sympathizing, Bernard wraps his extra-long wings around his new ape friend, and is surprised to find that not only does the orangutan feel better… so does he.

Loved this. Much like one of our recent favorites, All The Ways To Be Smart by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys, this sweet story illustrates that talent and ability come in many forms, and celebrates the value of empathy and emotional aptitude. Bernard comes to find that there are many animals in need of emotional support, and both his hugs AND his talent for listening are of immense help. This earns him a jungle full of new friends, including a few who adorably help him in return in the final spread. This focus on how being different is often a strength in and of itself is a wonderfully welcome and heartwarming message, bolstered by Adamson’s adorable, emotional illustrations and clever yet tender text. The length is perfect, and JJ and I both adored it. A warm hug of a tale, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Nobody Hugs A Cactus (Carter Goodrich)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Nobody Hugs A Cactus by Carter Goodrich, a delightful and gorgeous tale of a very cranky little cactus.

Hank the cactus lives alone in his pot in the windowsill, just the way he likes it. His view never changes: it’s dry and hot and dusty and quiet, just the way he likes it. Unfortunately, the third thing on his wishlist – to be left alone – is the only thing missing. All day long, all manner of creatures pass by or through his yard, often calling out in greeting; Hank always responds with silence or a few grumpy words of dismissal or chastisement. But when a passing cowboy comments that Hank could use a hug, but “nobody hugs a cactus”, the prickly protagonist gives pause. Passive-aggressively mentioning hugs to next few creatures that come near, Hank finds that the cowboy was right – no one wants to hug him. That is until a familiar face performs an unexpected act of kindness, and Hank decides that perhaps the best way to earn affection is to offer it first.

Adorable. Goodrich is a celebrated illustrator and animator as well as author, and his sense of environment, tone, and character design is impeccable here; from the first page, the reader falls in love with the cantankerous cactus (honestly, I was giggling over his expression the minute I saw the cover). The story is tight, knowing exactly when to use dialogue and when to let the gorgeous, rich, and slightly surreal desert-inspired illustrations do the talking (the almost Steadman-esque cowboy and coyote were particular favorites of mine; JJ adored Rosie the Tumbleweed). And the ultimate message, that the kindness we receive must begin with the kindness we give, is classic and universal. The length is great, and we loved this one – 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 Hugs For Porcupine (Zoe Waring)

Hello, friends! Our book today is No Hugs For Porcupine by Zoe Waring, a sweet story about a lonely little porcupine making a compassionate friend.

All the animals in the forest love to give each other hugs and cuddles – except for porcupine. The others whisper that he is too grumpy and prickly, but wouldn’t you be if no one wanted to give you a hug? Porcupine storms off by himself, where he tries to give himself a hug – only to be pricked by his own quills. Lonely and excluded, he tries to shakes off his quills, blunt them on a tree, even cover himself in moss, but to no avail. At last, he meets an Armadillo who offers him some comfort and advice, including introducing him to a new way of showing affection: a kiss. Finding that nose kisses are possible for him (no quills on his face, after all), he and Armadillo go back to find that the animals all miss Porcupine, and are eager to learn the new trick to including him in their friendly affections.

Very sweet. The story is a gentle fable that encourages kindness, understanding, and inclusiveness, showing little bookworms that it’s important to find ways to make sure everyone can participate (Porcupine even gives Owl – now left out because he cannot kiss with his beak – a gentle hug on the final page). The illusions have a wholesome charm, featuring cartoonish wildlife with open, endearing faces. The length is fine, and JJ liked it (especially learning how to say “porcupine”). This is a lovely little story, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Mervin The Sloth Is About To Do The Best Thing In The World (Colleen AF Venable)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is Mervin The Sloth Is About To Do The Best Thing In The World, written by Colleen AF Venable and illustrated by Ruth Chan, a delightful silly and sweet story of anticipation.

Attention everyone: MERVIN THE SLOTH IS ABOUT TO DO THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD! Of course, Mervin is a sloth and moves quite slowly, so we’ll have to be patient while he works up to it. In the meantime, the announcement (via fourth-wall-breaking letters that appear from the sky) draws in Mervin’s fellow animals, all of whom eagerly wait for the momentous occasion while guessing what the “best thing” might be. The birds insists that it’s flying, the gazelle is sure that it’s “gazelleing,” and a slightly overzealous gopher is pretty darn sure it will be digging. But Mervin is taking a long time, and with the exception of Red Panda, the animals are starting to get bored. Finally losing interest, the group disbands, except for Red Panda, who finds that Mervin just wanted to give him a hug – because hugging your best friend is the greatest thing in the world.

This one was absolutely charming! The absurdist humor, the ridiculous dialogue of the animals (the story is almost entirely dialogue, so there’s lots of chances to play with different voices), the wonderfully sweet conclusion; everything fit together for a perfectly enjoyable story start to finish. The illustrations are fantastic, and fit the style and tone of the text perfectly. We especially loved the detail that the sedate Mervin is very slowly, page by page, lifting his arms for the climactic hug. The length is perfect for little ones, and JJ was laughing at the animals’ antics all the way through. This one is everything a picture book should be: funny, charming and sweet. Emphatically Baby Bookworm approved!