Odd Beasts: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Animals (Laura Gehl)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Odd Beasts: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Animals, written by Laura Gehl and illustrated by Gareth Lucas, a board book look at some unusual creatures.

Very early readers can take a look at eight odd adaptations in the animal world with this simplified version of a nature primer. Introduced in brief rhyming quatrains (of which there are only three; four animals covered in each of the first two, then a delightfully humorous sign-off in the last), readers can meet the pangolin, the sunfish, the bush baby, and other unique animal pals.

Ambitious. It’s interesting to see such a broad subject get the board book treatment, and I’m on the fence over whether it works or not. The text for each of the eight animals is so brief that it really struggles to illuminate what makes their adaptations so unique; for instance, “this insect’s jumps are strong”, which is not only a bit of an understatement for the giant jumping stick, but fails to even give name to the insect. The artwork, while colorful and pleasing for young eyes, also struggles with this, especially in trying to establish scale on a massive creature like the sunfish. Gehl does include photographs and more details about the animals on the last two spreads, which helps immensely with the educational aspects, but is definitely framed for a slightly older audience. I don’t want to say this book doesn’t work, because honestly, we enjoyed it – JJ loved the artwork and especially the closing lines. The length of the main body makes for a quick read, and reading the supplemental material extends that. Overall, this one is simply a cool concept that falters a bit in its execution, but is worth checking out, especially for young animal enthusiasts; 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.)

Who is a Scientist? (Laura Gehl)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Who is a Scientist? by Laura Gehl, an awesome look at the diversity of the STEM fields and the people who work in them.

Introducing readers to fourteen real-life scientists from various fields of STEM (and all walks of life), little bookworms can look and learn about the people who work in science, what they do, and how they like to spend their free time. The subjects are men and women, young and old, a rainbow of skin tones, ethnicities, and religious dress, and a represent a ton of different interests, hobbies, and fields of study; readers are shown that anybody can be a scientist, including them!

Clever! Far from the stereotypical presentation of what being a scientist “looks like”, this short but sweet collection of scientists, from meteorologist to astronomer to agroecologist and more, are embodied by an incredibly diverse group of people, shown in photos both working and engaging in their off-hours hobbies. Allowing children to view scientists as real people who have many of the same hobbies and interests as they do while also giving them a taste of what their various disciplines entail allow kids from all backgrounds to view themselves as potential scientists as well, and show them that science isn’t always white coats and sterile labs (although sometimes it is, and that’s cool too!). Gehl does a great job of condensing each scientist and their passions into a quick and simple spread that gives readers a sense of the subjects without feeling overly detailed, and the name pronunciation guide in the back allows readers of all ages to educate themselves on how to properly pronounce every scientist’s name. The length was great for a quick read, and JJ enjoyed meeting fourteen new STEM role models. This is a clever way to get kids excited about science and pursuing careers in STEM, 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.)

Judge Juliette (Laura Gehl)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Judge Juliette, written by Laura Gehl and illustrated by Mari Lobo, a delightful tale of a young adjudicator.

Juliette’s first judge’s robes are her mother’s black skirt; her first gavel is her Grandpa’s old mallet. From the very first, Juliette is all about making fair judgements – she justly presides over toy trifles, playground disputes, and even parent-child disagreements in her neighborhood, alway making her judgements with fairness (for example, it’s not technically against the LAW to serve lima beans two nights in a row – merely MEAN). But when her parents finally agree to get Juliette her very own pet, she’s facing the toughest judgement of her young career: the matter of Cat v. Dog!

Informative and fun. Designed as an introduction to the world of law – and specifically, the career of a judge – this sweet story manages to tell an entertaining and charming story while weaving in concepts and vocabulary to that effect. Little readers will learn terms like “recuse”, “witness”, and “hearsay” (both incorporated into the text and in the glossary afterward) as Juliette decides her parents’ case of Cat v. Dog. The cartoonish artwork is simple yet endearing, and features an expressive and diverse cast; Juliette and her parents are particularly charming, as they create the picture of a loving, teasing, imperfect yet supportive family unit. The length is great for a quick storytime, and JJ genuinely liked the story and art. An entertaining read for any little one, and for little law-enthusiasts, a major treat. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Peep And Egg: I’m Not Taking A Bath (Laura Gehl)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Peep And Egg: I’m Not Taking A Bath, written by Laura Gehl and illustrated by Joyce Wan, a delightful little tale about a stubborn little chick and his patient big sister.

After playing in the mud with the pigs, Egg the chick is positively filthy. He needs a bath, but simply refuses to take one! His big sister Peep tries her best to convince him: they can bathe in the river or the duck pond or even the dog’s water bowl if he wants! But no, no, no. Egg will NOT be taking a bath today. Peep’s not worried though – she knows her little brother well enough to know exactly how to convince him that bath time will be worth his while.

This is the third book in the Peep And Egg series, but the first we’ve read, and we enjoyed it so much! The classic theme of a stubborn little one refusing an activity – only to find it can be a lot more fun than they had anticipated – is tried and true kid’s comedy, and it’s wonderfully warm and lighthearted here. Peep is a sweet, patient big sister, and it’s a nice example for older siblings on how to act theme their little brothers or sisters are being stubborn. Wan’s art is as whimsically adorable as always, and immediately endears the reader to every creature on the page. The length is good, and JJ and I both enjoyed it. A fun book about siblings, stubbornness, and bathtime for little readers, and it’s 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.)