Lulu The One And Only (Lynnette Mawhinney)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Lulu The One And Only, written by Lynnette Mawhinney and illustrated by Jennie Poh, an affirming tale of identity and pride.

Meet Lulu, short for Luliwa (Arabic for “pearl”). Lulu loves her family, but for some reason, they seem to confuse other people. People often ask Lulu’s brother Zane if his hockey coach is REALLY his father. When Lulu and her mom go to the playground, other parents think that her mother is a nanny. This is because Lulu’s dad is white, and her mother is black. Lulu tries to brush it off, but there is one question that really bothers her: “What are you?” She’s asked it constantly, by classmates and even strangers. Confiding in Zane, her brother encourages her to come up with a “power phrase” – a response to THAT question that implores others to look beyond her skin color and hair type. After thinking it over, Lulu decides that the next time someone asks her “What are you?”, she’ll reply “I’m Lulu Lovington, the one and only!”. After all, like an oyster holds a pearl within, the real treasure is what’s on the inside.

Phenomenal. This upbeat and empowering tale is a loving gift to children of biracial and multiracial backgrounds. Lulu’s struggles with ignorant comments about her heritage, especially THAT question, are presented refreshingly honest way (adult readers will cringe during a scene in which a white woman asks Lulu’s mother “What do you charge?”). Because children and parents in nontraditional and ethnically diverse families hear these micro-aggressions so often, this candidness is critical; eye-opening for those who might make such thoughtless comments and validating for young readers who hear them. Lulu and Zane’s strategy for dealing with these uncomfortable queries is inspired, and encourages little ones to develop their own power phrases for similar situations. The art is light and friendly, and emphasizes both Lulu uniqueness and her family’s strong bond. The length is great and JJ loved it. A fantastic tool for and loving tribute to mixed-race families, and we loved it. 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.)

Porcupine’s Pie (Laura Renauld)

Hello, friends! Sorry for our long hiatus, but we’re back! Our book today is Porcupine’s Pie, written by Laura Renauld and illustrated by Jennie Poh, a delightful tale of generosity and friendship.

Fall Feast Day is here, and Porcupine is prickled with excitement – she can’t wait to bake her famous Cranberry Pie for all her friends. Gathering her cranberries, she sets off to the river to wash them, running into her friend Squirrel along the way. Inquiring as to whether Squirrel will be making her famous Nut Bread, Porcupine is disappointed to hear that Squirrel is missing flour for her recipe – but not to worry! Porcupine has plenty in her kitchen, and tells Squirrel to help herself. Continuing on her journey, Porcupine also stops by Bear’s cave and Doe’s thicket, and finds they have similar predicaments – Bear is missing butter for his Honey Cake, and Doe lacks sugar for her Apple Tart. Again, Porcupine happily offers what she has. But when she arrives at the river to wash her berries, she makes a sad discovery: her cranberries have all fallen out along her way! Sadly returning home, she prepares to make a plain pie crust… but a knock at the door will show that good friends always return the kindness they are shown.

Wonderful. The classic, cozy story and timeless message, combined with some adorable fall-themed illustrations, make this a perfect autumn read. The text is warm and gentle without ever being too cutesy, and the characters are all marvelously endearing, especially the squat, spiny Porcupine. There’s even a recipe for Friendship Pie in the back for the culinary-inclined. The length was perfect, and JJ loved it. A charming fall read, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

May I Come In? (Marsha Diane Arnold)

Hello, friends! Our book today is May I Come In?, written by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrated by Jennie Poh, a sweet fable about the importance of kindness and hospitality.

When the thunderstorm hits Thistle Hollow, Raccoon is lucky enough to have a roof over his head – but no one to share it with. Too afraid to face the storm alone, he bundles up in scarf and umbrella and sets off to his friend Possum’s house. Sadly, Possum gently turns him away, saying that there just isn’t room. Raccoon pushes on to Quail and Woodchuck’s homes, but finds a similar answer at both. At last, he pushes through to knock on Rabbit’s door, but finding her inside with her 10 little ones, he is sure that she will not have room for him either. But Rabbit smiles and welcomes him in – there’s always room for a good friend. As Raccoon and the Rabbit family settle in for cozy companionship, they are surprised by another knock at the door – who could it be?

Wonderfully sweet. Adorable animals characters endear the reader to a story that encourages goodwill and generosity toward others. There was something quite lovely about the fact that Raccoon wasn’t seeking shelter from the storm, but connection; it shows that it’s okay to ask for help when you feel vulnerable, and the importance of offering that assistance to a friend if you are the one being asked. The text was easily read for the most part, though the rhythm – which switches between rhyme and straightforward – can be a little tripping. But the warm, cuddly art looks classic and feels homey. The length is good, and JJ really enjoyed it. A lovely tale of compassion and friendship, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!