How Do You Care For A Very Sick Bear? (Vanessa Bayer)

Hello, friends! Our book today is How Do You Care For A Very Sick Bear?, written by Vanessa Bayer and illustrated by Rosie Butcher, a tender look at how children can help a friend with a serious illness.

The story opens on two bear cubs, both with traditionally female attributes, frolicking together as they play. You and “your Bear” are the best of friends, the second-person text notes, and enjoy spending all your time together: talking, playing, exploring, imagining. But what happens when your Bear is very sick – too sick to play outside or run around or do all the things you normally do? How do you care for your very sick Bear, and be a friend to them when they need one the most?

Lovely. Drawing from her personal experiences battling leukemia in her teens, Bayer has crafted a delicate, moving ode to friendship, especially that rare and precious type that sees us through dark times. Reading primarily as an instructional tale (readers are encouraged to bring cards, snacks, and games; to talk and listen to their friend about the mundane and the serious; to understand if their friend needs space or rest, etc.), the affirming and positive language, paired with Butcher’s gentle and adorable storybook-style art, carries a delicate depth that keeps the tone light, yet leaves the reader with a lasting feeling of warmth. Even the details, such as the Bayer/Bear wordplay and the young Bear’s knit cap during her illness, feel measured, considered, and deeply personal, giving the story an authenticity that those with their own sick young bears will appreciate. JJ enjoyed the lovely art and the soothing tone of the text, but I think that as a mother, I got the most out of this one – it’s a wonderful resource for children and adults who may feel confused or helpless during an impossibly trying time, offering both a little direction and a little hope. The length was fine for any age, and we highly recommend 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.)

Aliens Get The Sniffles Too! Ahhh-Choo! (Katy S. Duffield)

Hello, friends! Today, we’re reviewing Aliens Get The Sniffles Too! Ahhh-Choo!, written by Katy S. Duffield and illustrated by K. G. Campbell, the tale of a little alien with a nasty cold.

Little Alien has a terrible bug: both of his throats are scratchy, his three noses are stuffy, and all five of his ears are stopped up and sore. Fortunately, he has a loving family to care for him. Daddy Alien takes his spaceship to get a soothing Milky Way milkshake for Little Alien’s throats, Mommy Alien mixes up a batch of Granny Alien’s Shooting-Star ear drops, and Mars Rover, Little Alien’s faithful space-dog, performs feats of acrobatics to make him smile. After all this, Little Alien begins to feel much better – but now Mars Rover seems to have caught his sneeze!

This sick-day read had a lot of bright spots, but there were some issues as well. The text has a lot of whimsical humor, and I especially liked the detail of Little Alien’s extra facial features, which provided a bit of empathy for how miserable his illness must be. However, the story seems to meander quite a bit, never really finding a clear narrative for its theme. The inclusion of the Lunar Decongestants, three small monsters with devices to ostensibly relieve Little Alien’s stuffed-up nose, was a little odd as well, most because they didn’t really have an earthbound convalescence counterpart (like the rest of the alien remedies) and were, frankly, a little creepy. Still, the art was a lot of fun, filling the alien world with great little details. The length was fine, and JJ enjoyed this one, especially the dramatic sneezing sequences, which had her squealing with giggles. Overall, a great sick-day read for your own buggy little alien, and 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.)

Still My Mommy (Megan Pomputius)

Hello, friends. Today, we read the book Still My Mommy, written by Megan Pomputius and illustrated by Andrea Alemanno, a story about a young girl dealing with a parent’s illness.

There once was a little girl whose mommy called her Supergirl, and they would spend lots of fun times together: reading books, running through the sprinkler, and learning how to write the letters of the alphabet. But one day, the little girl’s mommy gets very sick. Mommy must go on medicine that will make her tired and make her lose her hair. Still, no matter how different she may look, she will always love being with her little girl, because she’s still Mommy.

This is a very sweet book for all readers, but especially for children going through a family member’s illness (Pomputius based the book on her own fight against ovarian cancer). The message is simple but powerful: illness may change the people we love physically, mentally, or emotionally, but they are always the same person underneath. The book also covers some of the scary parts of chemotherapy, like losing hair, tactfully and simply enough for young children to understand. The illustrations have a nice, subdued quality that matches the text and subject matter well, and the length is fine for baby bookworms. Overall, this is an impressive book that takes on a difficult subject with grace and can help children during a confusing time in their family’s life. Baby Bookworm approved.

Ida, Always (Caron Levis)

Hello, friends! Today, we read a moving book about loss, grieving, and remembrance: Ida, Always, written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso.

Gus the polar bear lives in the middle of a great park in the middle of a vast city. It’s a humdrum life, every day the same, but at least he has someone to share it with: his best friend Ida. They spend their days playing, swimming, and basking in the sun, listening to the sounds of the city. One day, Ida becomes sick. The zookeeper tells Gus that she won’t get better, and eventually, she’ll pass away. Gus and Ida are devastated, but they stick by each other. Gus helps Ida when she is weak and Ida helps Gus to be strong. Sometimes they are angry, sometimes they are sad, and sometimes they need to be alone for a bit, but no matter what, they support each other. And even after Ida passes and Gus is heartsick with grief, he comes to realize that, in the sounds of their city, in his memories, and in his heart, Ida will be there. Always.

This book is deeply emotional (I shed a tear simply writing this review). Gus and Ida’s journey through mourning, even while Ida is still alive, will strike a chord with anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one. However, it also dispels some mysteries and provides comfort about the grieving process, explaining that it’s okay to laugh, or to be mad, or want to be alone, and it’s okay to grieve. The beautiful, gentle art supports the story perfectly, and the length is fine for little ones. Let me be clear: this is a very sad book, and might be tough on children old enough to understand the subject matter (JJ did not, obviously, and was happy to just point at the bears). However, for a child who is dealing with or learning about illness and loss, this is a book that might provide some understanding and comfort. Overall, it’s a moving, wonderful book, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.