Gnu and Shrew (Danny Schnitzlein)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Gnu and Shrew, written by Danny Schnitzlein and illustrated by Anca Sandu, a tale of ingenuity and perseverance.

As pals Gnu and Shrew rest beside a wide, crocodile-infested river, Gnu relates a tale he has heard – that in a cave on the opposite bank, there hides a wealth of diamonds. Gnu decides that he will find a way to cross the dangerous river and procure the diamonds, and then he and Shrew can reap the rewards of newfound wealth. However, Gnu’s attempts are half-hearted at best: he begins to dig a tunnel, but either he is too tired, or the weather is too rainy, or he is too busy with other distractions to finish it. Shrew, however, is busy industriously building a sturdy boat to brave the waters, using his friend’s musings on how to spend their wealth as inspiration (and ignoring Gnu’s repeated insistence that Shrew is too small and weak to accomplish anything on his own). Which of the friends will make their way to the diamonds first?

An interesting twist on a classic parable. Much like Aesop’s “The Ant and The Grasshopper”, the resolution of the tale shows that Gnu’s lack of follow-though and preoccupation with dreams over action is ultimately fruitless, while the inventive and ingenious Shrew’s efforts net him both the riches and and a happily-ever-after. Minor differences – such as the character’s enduring (if confusing) friendship and the focus on inspiration and innovation give the story a unique twist. The illustrations are cute, giving the characters – especially Gnu – a great deal of expression and charm. The length is fine for a quick storytime, and JJ enjoyed it. An effective re-telling of a timeless lesson, 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.)

Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention (Pip Jones)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention, written by Pip Jones and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie, a clever tale of one ingenious girl.

Izzy Gizmo and her pet bird Fixer are working on her newest invention one day (a So-Sew to mend clothes), when an invitation arrives in the mail. Izzy has been invited to the Invention Convention, a contest amongst young inventors held on the ingeniously-engineered Technoff Isle. The Professor and Mick Marvel challenge Izzy and her four competitors to come up with an impressive invention, and while Izzy is gung-ho, her quests for tools and supplies are thwarted at every turn by the pompous and unsportsmanlike Abi von Lavish. Her frustrations lead to a string of failed inventions and engineering hurdles, and she even gets so frustrated that she lashes out at Fixer. But with sage advice from her Grandpa, an apology to her friend, and a spark of inspiration, Izzy’s gizmo may just win the day.

Very cute. While this title is a follow-up to Izzy’s 2017 debut, this is our first encounter with the young inventor, and we enjoyed it immensely. Much like Andrea Beaty’s Rosie Revere – a perennial favorite in our household- Izzy is both admirably brilliant yet emotionally relatable (in fact, Ogilvie’s exuberant artwork, filled with madcap energy and meticulous details, also shares a spirit with Rosie’s other creator, David Roberts; the girls would be good friends, I imagine). What’s more, Izzy wants to do well and play fair, and facing adversity on her efforts, she redirects and perseveres without compromising her beliefs – a great lesson for kiddos. The rhymes can occasionally have a tricky rhythm, but are mostly fun to read aloud, and JJ enjoyed the colorful and detailed artwork. This is a sweet story with a myriad of themes, and we liked it a lot! 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 Boo-Boos That Changed The World: A True Story About An Accidental Invention (Really!) (Barry Wittenstein)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Boo-Boos That Changed The World: A True Story About An Accidental Invention (Really!), written by Barry Wittenstein and illustrated by Chris Hsu, a story of how Band-Aids came to be.

Once upon a time, there was a couple named Earle Dickson and his beloved Josephine. Earle worked for the medical supply company Johnson & Johnson, and Josephine was a homemaker – a particularly accident-prone one. Earle would often come home to his wife and be sad to see that she had cuts or burns on her hands from cooking, and he worried about the non-sterile rags she used to wrap her injuries. After brainstorming for a while, Earl come up with a solution: a piece of gauze adhered to medical tape, and treated with crinoline to keep infection away. Josephine liked his invention so much that she, along with one of Earle’s friends, encouraged him to pitch the invention to his company. Band-Aids were born… but to a rocky start! But some savvy marketing and generosity would ensure that Band-Aid would eventually become a household name.

Very interesting! Band-Aids are such a staple of everyday life that it’s definitely worth knowing where the idea came from! And this book tells a fun tale, using a sense of humor and enthusiastic text to engage readers in the story. The illustrations are very cute, bringing the 1920’s to life with cheerful-looking characters and lovely backgrounds. The length was good, and JJ enjoyed it. There was one slight issue: a few times, the world “bloody” is used as a humorous double-meaning adjective. For American readers, this is not an issue, but many other English-speaking countries still consider this to be a curse word! In every other sense, this is an interesting tale with a great energy, and we liked 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.)