Mary Wears What She Wants (Keith Negley)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley, a picture book reimagining of the childhood of trailblazer Mary Edwards Walker.

Long ago, it was illegal for girls to wear pants. Women and girls could only wear dresses, which were cumbersome, uncomfortable, and restrictive. Little Mary thinks this is unfair, so she makes a decision: she will wear pants instead of her bulky dress. At first, her new wardrobe is liberating – she plays and cartwheels with joy. That is until the local townspeople see her… then the ugliness begins. Adults and children alike heckle Mary, pelt her with fruit, and tell her to stop wearing “boys’ clothes”. Hurt, Mary confers with her father, who explains that people are often afraid of change. Mary asks if she should wear a dress again, but her father encourages her to make her own decision. After some thought, Mary opts to continue wearing the clothes that make her happy – not “boys’ clothes”, but HER clothes.

Wonderful. While the story itself is more inspired by Walker than literal account, it simplifies a message that speaks to both the past, present, and future of gendered clothing. Especially nice is the inclusion of Mary’s father as a male advocate, and the show of solidarity by her female classmates at the end. Equally appreciated is the short but extremely informative backmatter biography of Walker, who was one of the first female surgeons in the United States and remains the only woman to have ever won a Congressional Medal of Honor. The cartoonish drawings and simple color palette are nicely balanced, creating a lot of emotion while keeping the heavier aspects light. The length is fine, JJ liked it, and it was a delight start to finish – Baby Bookworm approved.

Top 5: Books About Dads


Hello, friends! As June comes to a close, we’re here with our latest Top 5 List! Since many of you enjoyed last month’s Top 5 Books About Moms, and we celebrated Father’s Day in June, we decided to follow up with a list of our favorite books about dads and the special relationship they share with their little ones.

So without further ado, here are The Baby Bookworm’s Top 5 Books About Dads:

1. My Dad Thinks He’s Funny (Katrina Germein)


Dad jokes: love them or hate them, dads always seem to have a natural ability to make them. Be it puns that make us groan, goofy behavior that makes us blush, or the embarrassment of dads being daaaaads, we’ve all experienced the unique attempts at comedy that only fathers can provide. This is a great send-up of dad jokes, told from the point of view of an exasperated little boy and chock full of eye-rolling dad jokes. Tom Jellett’s collage-style illustrations create a unique world that is enjoyable and supports the humor well. It’s a sweet story with a moral that so many of us (especially those who have been through our teenage years) can relate to: while our dads can be terribly mortifying, we love them anyway. And yes, sometimes they can even make us laugh.

2. Daddy’s First Day (Mike Wohnoutka)


A hilariously sweet role-reversal story that made us (especially JJ’s daddy) grin. The first day of school can be a rite of passage that’s tough on everyone; especially, it seems, Oliver’s dad. After a summer of playing, reading, and spending time together, it’s time for Oliver’s first day of school, and he’s feeling pretty nervous. Oh no, Oliver’s not feeling nervous – but his dad is! Watching Oliver’s dad procrastinate dropping his son off at school, even projecting his feelings of trepidation onto his Oliver, is as humorous as it feels true; what parent doesn’t feel a bit unprepared to send their baby off to school for the first time? The art has a simple, earnest style that fits the guileless nature of the story. Overall, it’s a funny yet heartfelt tale of a devoted dad learning to let his little one grow, no matter how scary that might be.

3. Stella Brings The Family (Miriam B. Schiffer)


June is also Pride Month, so we definitely wanted to include this fantastic story that combines LGBTQ families and celebrating the many roles that dads can have in their children’s lives. When Stella’s class is putting together a Mother’s Day party, she isn’t sure who to invite: while she has two daddies whom she adores, she doesn’t actually have a mother. Speaking to her teacher and classmates, she realizes that her fathers and extended family give her all the love and support that she needs, so she decides to invite all of them. While appearing feather-light on the surface, this is a story with great depth that shows that children in loving non-traditional families are in no way “missing out” in the places that their families differ from the nuclear model. Adorably sweet illustrations by Holly Clifton-Brown and a well-paced story create a fantastic celebration of families and the many shapes and forms they come in, and how having two fathers who love you is a point of pride.

4. My Dad Used To Be So Cool by Keith Negley


This one is as much for the parents as it is for the kids, and we loved it. A little boy is pretty sure his dad used to be cool: he has tattoos, he used to ride a motorcycle, he even used to be in a band. But now he’s mostly just a normal, loving, chore-doing and only occasionally mortifying dad. The boy ponders what could have made his father change his lifestyle (the implied joke being, of course, that becoming a father did). Baby Bookworms like JJ will love the boldly-colored mod art style, and the former rockstars and rebels among us will definitely have a chuckle as the book reminds them of their pre-parenting wild days. There’s a sweet conclusion, too: while the glory days of rebellion may get left behind, being a loving daddy to a little one is classicly, timelessly cool.

5. Daddy Cuddle (Kate Mayes)


Sweet, simple, and full of charm. A little bunny is the first to wake in his house, and rushes to wake his father and start the day. But no matter what activities the bunny tries to rouse his dozing father with, nothing seems to tempt the sleeping parent to wakefulness. At last, after the little bunny gives a frustrated shout, Daddy wakes up and, chuckling, pulls his little one into bed for early morning snuggles – the best activity to start a sleepy day with. Darling watercolor art by Sara Acton and simple two-word dialogue make this a great story for even the youngest baby bookworms. A heartfelt ode to both the boundless early-morning energy of little ones and the quiet, cuddly moments between father and child.

So, what do you think? Did we miss any of your favorites? Do you have a book about mothers you would like to recommend to us? Let us know in the comments, or message us from our Contact page. Thanks so much, and happy reading!

My Dad Used To Be So Cool (Keith Negley)


Hello, friends! Our book today is My Dad Used To Be So Cool by Keith Negley, a very funny story about formerly-cool parents and the kids we love to embarrass.

The book’s narrator, a little boy, is pretty sure his dad used to be cool. He has tattoos, he used to ride a motorcycle, he may have even been in a band (the little boy isn’t sure, but he has some evidence that makes him think so, like the drum kit in the closet). As the duo get ready to go to the park, the little boy imagines what his dad must have been like when he was cool, and wonders what made him change. But after a day of laughter and play, the boy decides that his dad is still pretty cool… and only occasionally mortifying.

This one was great, and was definitely as much for parents as their little ones. While baby bookworms like JJ will love the bright, boldly-colored mod-style illustrations and the story about the bond between fathers and their children, parents who have left their rockstar and rebel days behind for parenthood (as so many of us have) will definitely get a laugh out of the little boy’s musings about what might have made his dad give up being so darn cool. The length is perfect, and this one is just fun for the whole family, especially to those parents who can look back fondly (and with humor) on their wild glory days. Baby Bookworm approved!

Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) (Keith Negley)

Hello, friends! Today, we read a book called Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) by Keith Negley, a fantastic story about how everyone is allowed to have and express their emotions.

Superheroes have feelings! So do ninjas, wrestlers, big biker dudes, even daddies. When saving the world, sometimes tough guys feel sad, disappointed, scared, or lonely. Sometimes, they even cry. And that’s okay, because no matter how big or tough someone is, they are allowed to feel all those things, because feelings are something we all share.

I LOVED the message of this book. Feminism and gender equality is always something I am glad to see in children’s books, and while there is a wonderfully growing amount of books that tell little girls that they can be strong, there are only a handful that express to boys that it’s okay for them to be sensitive. This book does so beautifully, with great text and a length that is perfect for any age, and bold, colorful space-age inspired art. Our only complaint is a small illustration of a dead squirrel (a tattooed biker is mourning the roadkill) that might upset some younger readers and/or might raise some heavy questions, but otherwise, this is a great book to show little ones that their emotions are always valid. Baby Bookworm approved!