My Pet Feet (Josh Funk & Billy Yong)

Hello, friends! Our book today is My Pet Feet by Josh Funk and Billy Yong, a delightfully creative title that poses the question: what would happen if the letter R simply… disappeared?

Our unnamed child narrator wakes up one morning, ready to feed their pet, Doodles, when they’re greeted with a surprise: overnight, their pet ferret has become pet FEET! Upon further investigation, it seems that the letter R has disappeared completely from their town: their friend Lucas has become a fiend, local dogs are baking instead of barking, and when Doodles and the child try to take shelter from attacking cows, they can’t get in the town hall door because… well, you can guess. Exasperated with the situation, the child exclaims that she doesn’t want to have pet feet, inadvertently hurting Doodles’s feelings. The pet feet runs off, and the child gives chase; will they reconcile in time to solve the mystery of the missing R’s?

Creative and entertaining wordplay. Funk and Yong invite readers to consider the importance of each letter in the alphabet, while balancing humor and heart to tell a unique story with some wonderful twists and turns. Author Funk does a commendable job of building the premise while also refraining from the use of any words that use the letter R until the climax of the story, giving the story an amusing meta layer. Illustrator Yong populates the R-less world with some wonderful sight gags that prompt the audience to guess where the missing letter Rs might be (a personal favorite are the “ats”, @-shaped rodents with a taste for bagels). The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ absolutely loved the wordplay and silly premise. Overall, this is a great way to explore the importance of word construction and letters while also having a few laughs, and we absolutely recommend it – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Bill Martin Jr. & John Archambault)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, written by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, the classic alphabet story of an adventurous young alphabet and their brush with disaster, now available in an storytime-friendly spiral-bound version.

“A told B, and B told C, ‘I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree’”. After the first three letters scale the palm tree, the other lowercase letters of the alphabet join in, until the entire alphabet finds themselves weighing the now-wobbly tree down. After a disastrous tumble, and some coddling by their caregivers (the uppercase letters, naturally), the lowercase letters limp off with a few bumps and bruises for their trouble… but not deterred in the least from trying to scale the coconut tree again soon.

What can we say about such a classic? There’s a reason that this simple, masterfully-metered, and charmingly-illustrated alphabet story has been a beloved staple of libraries and bookshelves for over forty years. Reading it again for this review was like slipping on a cozy sweater: familiar, comforting, and wonderfully enjoyable. This new spiral-bound version, inspired by the kamishibai style of storytelling, allows the adult reader to recite the enlarged text off the back of the book while holding the illustrated spread (which includes a smaller version of text as well) up for optimal audience visibility. While this is great for any storytime experience, this is a wonderful adaptation for educators reading to a larger audience. In addition, the book can still be enjoyed in the traditional orientation, allowing for a versatility of reading styles. JJ and I loved revisiting this old favorite; it’s the perfect length for a quick storytime, and a wonderful way to brush up on the alphabet. Overall, a classic title that can be enjoyed in a brand new way, and we loved it! Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Photo Ark ABC: An Animal Alphabet in Poetry and Pictures (Joel Sartore & Debbie Levy)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Photo Ark ABC: An Animal Alphabet in Poetry and Pictures, with photographs by Joel Sartore and poems by Debbie Levy, a playful alphabetical expedition through the animal kingdom.

Featuring original animal portrait photography from Sartore, creator of the National Geographic Photo Ark, this ambitious title combines striking high-quality photos of one (sometimes two) animal species per letter of the alphabet with an energetic kid-friendly poem dedicated to the critter in question. Young readers can learn about familiar favorites like frogs, lions, and walruses, plus a few lesser-known animals like groupers or urials.

A fun twist on animal alphabets! While perhaps not as educational as ABC books that explore animal species with factoids, Levy’s plucky poetry is wildly entertaining while still managing to include a few fun, if less-specific, facts about the animals in Sartore’s photography. Bright, illustrative typeset adds to the fun, emphasizing words like “squeezes” or “squirmy” or “Roar!” with text that reflects the word’s meaning. Sartore’s photography is striking, presenting the animals against black or white backgrounds to keep the focus on their unique and highly-detailed natural features. The poems themselves are lengthy, so younger readers may not be able to finish this one in a single sitting, but kids of all ages can enjoy the poems piecemeal and the photos independently, giving the book multi-age appeal. JJ definitely loved the photos and the few poems we read, and was excited to explore more later. Overall, a great way to explore the animal kingdom and the world of poetry at the same time, and we liked it a lot! Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Eek!: A Noisy Journey From A to Z (Julie Larios & Julie Paschkis)

Hello, friend an our book today is Eek!: A Noisy Journey From A to Z by Julie Larios and Julie Paschkis, a unique alphabet book of onomatopoeias.

When a little mouse plucks a flower and takes an appreciative sniff, he lets out a polite sneeze (“achoo”), which disturbs the bee who was hiding within the petals (“buzz”). As the story unfolds further, each letter is represented by a different “noisy” word – “fwump”, “plop”, “vroom”, etc. – popping up as a different element of the rollicking and unpredictable story of the mouse and his flower unfolds.

Silly fun. Exploring an alphabet’s worth of sound words is a clever twist on the typical ABC fare, and the choices of onomatopoeic words range nicely from noises, animal calls, and even emotional exclamations (a weeping raccoon wails out a “maaaah!”, for instance). The colorful illustrations introduce an entire cast of animals and settings that flow nicely from one to the next, giving a good sense of cause and effect and allowing readers to interpret the story for themselves through context clues. The folk-inspired artwork is distinctive and eye-catching, if occasionally busy. The length is great, and JJ really enjoyed this one. A fun way to explore the alphabet and sounds, and we liked it – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Z Goes First (Sean Lamb)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Z Goes First, written by Sean Lamb and illustrated by Mike Perry, a look at the alphabet from the perspective of its last letter.

Being in the alphabet is fine, but Z is simply bored and frustrated with being last! How come she never gets to go first? With her friend Y tagging along, she decides to take a journey to the beginning of the alphabet. The pair meet all of the other letters along the way, from the wisecracking duo of J and K, the inseparable crowd of LMNOP, the narcissistic I, and the imperiously popular E. At last, Z and Y find themselves at the beginning of the alphabet… or where they really there all along?

This was pretty darn cute. In the tradition of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, the story humanizes the letters, even presenting each as having their own unique personality, down to the way they appear (fancy, colorful, emulating words that they begin such as “tree”, etc). Paired with clever wordplay and alphabet-related puns, this gives a simple alphabet book an engaging storyline and plenty of child- and adult-friendly humor, and makes for a fun read. The illustrations are madcap in color and design, but never in a way that feels overwhelming or dissonant. The ending is a bit confusing and abrupt however, and may fly over the heads of younger readers. Still, the length was good and JJ really enjoyed it. Definitely give this one a read (tip: look up the pronunciation for flocci­nauci­nihili­pilification beforehand). Baby Bookworm approved!

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