Big Words For Little Geniuses (Susan & James Patterson)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Big Words For Little Geniuses, written by Susan and James Patterson and illustrated by Hsinping Pan.

Have you ever been part of a kerfuffle? Or seen something that was a bit catawampus? Ever wanted to know if there was a word for the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth? (There is, it’s “arachibutyrophobia”!) This delightfully unusual alphabet book challenges little readers with lesser-known, often-lengthy, and wonderfully fun-to-say words that they may not hear elsewhere. Little bookworms can learn about words like “Lilliputian”, “quokka”, and “flibbertigibbet”, from phonetic spelling to an easily-understood definition, with even more words included in a glossary in the backmatter.

What fun! As a lover of words, especially unusual, little-used, and/or esoteric ones, this was an incredibly enjoyable read for both myself and JJ. The Pattersons do a great job of choosing words that are unusual yet still entertaining and identifiable, so kids can indeed find use for them in their everyday lives (as can the adults reading with them)! The whimsical and vivid color-block illustrations are a treat, and JJ absolutely adored them. This was a good length for a quick read-through, and could provide lots of fun for repeat readings and learning opportunities. A perfect book for budding logophiles, and we definitely recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Penguins Of America (James & Jack Patterson, with Florence Yue)

Hello, friends! We have an interesting one today: Penguins Of America, written by James and Jack Patterson with Florence Yue and illustrated by James Madsen. This one is technically not a children’s book, but a coffee table/humor book (JJ grabbed it from a shelf at the library because she loves penguins, and well, this is her blog too). However, it put a big smile on her face, so we felt it was worth reviewing regardless of its intended audience.

Journey across the United States and meet penguins from every walk of life, from the rich and glamorous to the humble blue-collar (black-collar?) workers that make things go. Peek into their lives as they go to their jobs (fish market, seal-walker, etc), spend their leisure time surfing and watching movies, follow the latest fashions (why is it called a “cat”walk, anyway?), and even get married and start families. 

This was definitely more for adults, being a satirical look at various aspects of American life. Most of the jokes would probably be over the heads of younger bookworms, and there were at least three instances that I noticed of characters smoking, plus various depictions of alcohol and slightly adult humor. However, if you can look past those, this one still had a surprising amount of appeal as a picture book! The text was presented in short segments that could be easily read aloud, the length wasn’t bad, and the art was absolutely gorgeous, lovingly rendered in great detail to show both the humorous and sincere aspects of American life, penguin style. So while this one may not be strictly for children, it WAS a treat for penguin-lovers like JJ, and would delight all ages who are fans of our formally feathered friends. Baby Bookworm approved!