The Good Egg (Jory John & Pete Oswald)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Good Egg by Jory John and Pete Oswald, a comedic yet poignant tale about the importance of self-care.

The unnamed narrator introduces himself on the first page as a Good Egg (he is in the process of rescuing a kitty from a tree as he does). This very good egg is always helping people, volunteering to assist with painting houses or carrying groceries or watering plants… with earnest, if mixed, results. He’s been this way always, even from his early days at the store, where he was one of a dozen eggs – and the only good egg of the bunch. His siblings are troublemakers and rule-breakers, and while Good Egg does his best to clean their messes and keep the peace, the stress of being the only voice of reason begins to wear on him. One day, he wakes with cracks in his shell, a sure sign of the impossible pressure he’s put on himself. Knowing that he has to make a change, he bids farewell to his rowdy siblings and embarks on a journey of self-care. At first it’s lonely, but soon he learns how to put himself first, and begins to heal.

Empowering and sweet. In this creative story, John and Oswald explore the importance of putting ourselves first once in a while, and understanding that not everyone can or wants to rise to our personal standards. It’s a simple message and a necessary one, especially in a time in which readers young AND old place so much pressure on themselves to be perfect. Good Egg eventually returns to his carton-mates, who have genuinely missed him, and he learns to balance taking care of others with taking care of himself – a subtle nod to how the people we love may not always be perfect, and that’s okay because NO ONE is. All we can do is our best, for each other and ourselves. The art is adorable, soft and simple yet filled with comedic beats that match the punny text well. The length is great, and JJ really liked this one. An important read for any perfectionist, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Penguin Problems (Jory John & Lane Smith)

Hello, everyone! Today’s book is Penguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith, the story of a rather pessimistic penguin learning to appreciate his blessings.

Penguin problems: this guy has plenty. It’s too cold. The ocean smells too salty. It’s too hard to catch fish and he’s hungry. Everyone looks like him, and he looks like everyone else. It’s all got little Penguin pretty down. A friendly Walrus takes notice, and encourages Penguin to appreciate the things that make him happy, rather than his many frustrations. Will this improve the grumpy little penguin’s mood?

I had some mixed feelings about this one. The art is lovely, managing to take a somewhat barren landscape such as Antarctica and make it feel rich and majestic, and filling it with gorgeously illustrated creatures. Unfortunately, the story is a bit of a slog: Penguin’s whining is incessantly aggravating, and many of his complaints are simple problems that he himself can resolve but refuses to. Many other complaints are self-deprecating, which makes his sadness a bit more sympathetic, but when the pace stops dead during Walrus’ well-intentioned yet pedantic lecture, it’s hard to know who to root for. If the penguin has real self-esteem issues, “just cheer up” is not the right sentiment. And if Walrus is truly encouraging his optimism, well: Penguin immediately complains about Walrus’s interference, then begrudgingly admits that some things in his life are okay, then goes RIGHT BACK to whining. It’s a frustrating ending that leaves the reader feeling as though there has been no progress. There are some cute jokes and, again, the art is just lovely, but the pacing problems made it tough for a baby bookworm like JJ to get into, and I didn’t much like the overall message. If you’d like to peruse some charming Antarctic art, give this one a go. Otherwise, this might be one to skip. 

I Love You Already! (Jory John & Benji Davies)

Hello, everyone! Our book today is I Love You Already! by Jory John and Benji Davies, a silly story about a duck, a bear, and the things we do for friendship.

Bear is very much looking forward to spending a cozy day at home with his books and his tea, but his friend Duck has other plans. The excitable and energetic Duck convinces Bear to come out on a Sunday stroll with him, then pesters him relentlessly in an effort to bond. Annoyed, Bear storms off for a few moments of peace, but Duck still tries to follow, hurting himself in the process. Seeing that his friend is hurt, Bear takes a breath and explains that sometimes, he just likes to be alone, and that Duck doesn’t have to try so hard to impress him: Bear loves his friend already.

This was a fun book, and enjoyable if you don’t take it too seriously. The text is written in a comic book-conversation-style, and the two characters’ dialogue is really well-written and tons of fun to read aloud (funny voices are key for this book – more’s the better!). It also has the nice message that wanting to be alone doesn’t mean you don’t like the person you’re with – sometimes, it just means you need to be on your own for a bit. Only complaint: Duck didn’t seem to learn this lesson very well at the end – he was still pestering Bear all the way home – which was very funny but didn’t really sell the moral of the story. However, JJ loved the illustrations, and the length was good, and it gave us a few really good laughs, so we enjoyed this one overall. Baby Bookworm approved!