Chrysanthemum (Kevin Henkes)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, a sweet tale of the joys of being unique.

When Chrysanthemum was born, her parents chose a name that encapsulated everything they felt about her, that she was precious and priceless and beautiful and fascinating. As she grew, Chrysanthemum loved her name – the way it looked written out, the way it sounded when her parents said it, and simply that it was hers. But when she starts school, and the other children tease her for her distinctive name, she suddenly feels ashamed of it. As the mean girls, lead by Victoria, cruelly bully her, even her parents’ love and support can’t stop Chrysanthemum from feeling sick over her name. However, their class is about to meet a very cool and popular teacher… one with a unique name of her own.

Using a cute plot with a sharp of edge of honesty to it, this story examines how bullying can hurt long after the words are spoken. It’s heartbreaking to watch the cruelty of others turn something a child loves about herself into something she feels shame for, but is definitely a story that many kids can relate to. As a parent, it’s tough to watch the little mouse’s own parents do everything they can to buoy Chrysanthemum’s spirits at the end of each day, only for her to still have nightmares, anxiety, and then her heart broken again the next. The ending is a little tidy, and I wish Chrysanthemum could have found a way to love her name again without having to be validated by another outside source. Also, it seemed petty that Victoria’s blunder in the epilogue is then mocked by Chrysanthemum – she shouldn’t need to sink to her bully’s level. But as a story of knowing how to recognize which people’s opinions to value, and loving yourself for who you are, it’s still a pretty special story. A little longer, but JJ didn’t mind because the story and text were compelling, and the illustrations are a bit dated but still adorable. Overall, Baby Bookworm approved!

In The Middle Of Fall (Kevin Henkes)

Hello, friends! Our book today is In The Middle Of Fall, written by Kevin Henkes and illustrated by Laura Dronzek, a lovely meditation on the magical time of year when nature is filled with the color of fall.

There is a time that comes only once a year… a short time between the air growing cooler and the ice coming in, between the chittering of animals and the silence of snowfall, between the bright green of leaves on the tree and the naked branches reaching into a blank white sky. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it time, but if you’re paying attention, there’s ripe round pumpkins and apples, busy squirrels, and a cool gray sky. And occasionally, when the wind stirs up just right, the world becomes a riotous flutter of reds and yellows and oranges and browns that leap from the treetops to dance and settle on the ground.

This is a quiet and very mellow book about autumn, and I really liked it. The text is minimal and contemplative, and very soothing to read aloud, considering and celebrating just a handful of fall things and colors in a reverent sort of tone. The art compliments this perfectly, capturing the elements of fall in a soft autumnal palette that rises and falls with the gentle narrative of the words. The length is fine, and JJ and I both enjoyed it. A tranquil exploration of the beauty of autumn, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Waiting (Kevin Henkes)


Hello, friends! I’m sorry we keep missing review days, but we’ll be making our big house move tomorrow, so hopefully once we get settled, our schedule will not be as spotty. For now, we’re here today with a review of Waiting by Kevin Henkes, an innocently sweet story of five friends and their life together.

There were five of them: the spotted owl, the pig with the umbrella, the bear with the kite, the puppy on the sled, and the bunny with stars. They were always together, and always waiting for something: the owl waited for the moon, the puppy for snow, and the bunny… well, he just liked to wait. When their favorite type of weather would blow, they were happy, and in between they would spend their days together, watching the small wonders of the world from their windowsill. Sometimes one would leave for a while, but they would always come back. And one day, when a cat with patches comes to stay, they find that their little makeshift family expands – by more than they think.

This is a strange yet wonderful book that takes a very small corner of the world, a child’s windowsill where a few of their toys are kept, and creates from it an entire world. The combination of the simple, straightforward text and Henke’s signature subtle illustrations brings to life a story that never leaves its unassuming location, yet still finds rich characters and a lovely story to tell. It’s a tale about appreciating the details, and taking a moment to stop and wait for the small wonders of life to unfold. It’s a good length, and JJ likes it a lot. A gentle, charming, and soothing story, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Egg (Kevin Henkes)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Egg by Kevin Henkes, an adorable story of four little eggs and the surprises they hold inside.

Laid out in graphic-novel style, four colorful eggs sit, waiting to hatch. Soon, three of the eggs crack and open, revealing colorful baby birds. But the birds eventually notice that their fourth friend has yet to hatch. The birds attempt to help the egg along with some pecking, and soon enough they hear a telltale “crack”! But what’s inside the egg is not what they were expecting at all!

This was a simple, fun little book about eggs, patience, and friendship, and we had a lot of fun with it. It’s especially great for very young readers because the text is minimal and repetitive: by the third “peck-peck-peck” panel, JJ was tapping the book and “ek”-ing along with me. The spring-themed color scheme is bright, simple, and visually pleasing, and Henke’s illustrations are as sweet and charming as always. The length is just perfect for babies, and as you can tell from the photo, JJ absolutely loved it! This is an easy and fun springtime read, and we recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

When Spring Comes (Kevin Henkes)

Summer Reading Day 60: Our book today was When Spring Comes, written by Kevin Henkes and illustrated by Lauren Dronzek. As you might guess from the title, this is a book about the beginnings of spring: flowers, rain, new kittens, etc. It’s a fairly thorough examination of the spring season, told through a simple, lovely narrative and with some colorful and sweet illustrations. The length was perfect for JJ, and she loved the pictures. Definitely a good one to pick up around springtime! Baby bookworm approved.