Listen Up, Louella (Ashley Belote)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Listen Up, Louella by Ashley Belote, a story about communication and cooperation.

Louella the elephant is SO excited for Roar Scout Camp! She’s ready and raring to paint pictures, make music, play games, go canoeing, and much more with her Roar Scout friends. However, in her exuberance, Louella doesn’t notice that she’s made a habit of taking over every activity and ruining the fun for the others. Worse, when her friends try to speak up about it, she simply will not listen! Louella’s behavior is making camp a lot less fun for all her pals… but as it happens, it may also result in Louella missing out on future fun as well. Can Louella learn to calm down, listen up, and cooperate?

A simple story with a welcome lesson. We all know the little ones with the BIG personalities, who may inadvertently steal the thunder of quieter or smaller companions. Using a compassionate narrative and colorful art, Belote tells a story here that communicates the importance of listening and showing consideration while making Louella’s “big personality” sympathetic. In this way, it speaks to both of those types of kids, and encourages understanding all around. A combination of speech bubbles and narrative text means the layout of some pages can get a little confusing, especially when reading aloud, but the artwork is endearing and fun, and length is perfect for storytime, and JJ and I both really liked this (especially since JJ has often been on both sides of this particular communication divide). Overall, a really pleasing title that tackles a common social problem for kiddos, and we 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.)

Listen (Gabi Snyder)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Listen, written by Gabi Snyder and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin, a look at the sounds all around us and how they can help us focus, learn, and grow.

Sometimes, in the big wide world, there can be a lot of NOISE. But if we quiet our minds and really listen, we would find that noise is made up of individual sounds: a dog’s friendly bark, children playing jump-rope, wind rushing through trees. In fact, if we truly focus our attention, many of those noises can teach us things, like new words, or how to comfort a friend when they need to talk about their feelings, or even the voice inside ourselves has to say. It’s true, the world is full of noise – so it’s good to know how to take a breath, close our eyes, and truly listen.

Soothing and thought-provoking. In the grand tradition of children’s books encouraging young readers to slow down and take stock of the world around – and within – them, this one focuses specifically on the difference between hearing and listening. The benefits of active listening are well-explored, from providing comfort to others to calming one’s mind to the simple enjoyment of the symphony of life that surrounds us. This is richly brought to life by Graegin’s relaxing, blue-heavy visuals, using pops of color to focus the reader’s attention and allowing them to “hear” the expressive characters and environments. Backmatter briefly explains the mechanics of hearing and different types of listening, a welcome addition to the theme of the book. The length is great for a quick storytime, and JJ really enjoyed this one. Overall, a soft and sweet reminder of the possibility in sound, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Celia (Christelle Vallat)

Hello, everyone! Today, we read Celia, written by Christelle Vallat and illustrated by Stéphanie Augusseau, a story about a boy in need and an old woman who listens.

Celia is a listener. Each Sunday, a line of townspeople form at her home, and whisper their concerns and problems and worries. In return for her kindness, they each give her a seed, which she sows into flowers and cupcake frosting and colors come Monday. One Sunday, a little boy named Julian is in line, but finds he has lost his seed! How will he rid himself of his worries if he cannot whisper them to Celia?

This is an English translation of a Belgian picture book, and while the art is very colorful and beautiful, I cannot help but feel that something got lost in the translation of the text. There are definitely metaphors to be found here: on friendship, patience, kindness and optimism, even the value of talking about your troubles instead of bottling them up. In fact, there are so many metaphors that fit together in such complex ways, I was left scratching my head a bit at the end, wondering if the main point of the story had gotten past me. Maybe that’s good thing? It’s definitely one that, for better or worse, you will ponder over after it’s closed. With that in mind, this one may be better suited for slightly older kids; while the length was fine, and the colors were nice, JJ was not overly interested in the story. Still, definitely an interesting book, and one that other readers may enjoy, so Baby Bookworm approved.