Read Island (Nicole Magistro)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Read Island, written by Nicole Magistro and illustrated by Alice Feagan, a sweet, imaginative journey into the world of reading.

A young girl and her animal companions – a bespectacled fox and beanie-wearing mouse – set sail one morning to a magical place: Read Island, a distant isle filled with books and the animals who love them. As the girl’s sailboat approaches, a sea wolf calls the other inhabitants of the island to gather for storytime. The creatures and girl circle up on the beach for a tale led by the sea wolf, after which they celebrate by heading off on their own literary adventures. The day ends with the sailors and their island friends waving goodbye as the sun sets, and a moon rises over the adventurous readers.

Slightly uneven but earnestly sweet. The trip to Read Island is a delightful one, conjuring images of both a trip to the library or bookstore, and of simply getting lost in the world of a captivating book. And while the rhyming text and expressive artwork each capture this in their own unique way, the two sometimes feel as if they belong in two different picture books. The text is lyrical, full of soft and wistful imagery that often feels out of place next to the more cartoonish, whimsical artwork. Both fit the theme well, and I especially loved details like the moose storing books in his antlers or clever incorporation of mixed-media printed words into the illustrations; they just occasionally felt disconnected from each other. There are a few notable exceptions, such as a stunning spread that shows a myriad of worlds bursting forth from the pages of the fox’s book. Otherwise, the length was great for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed it. Overall, this is one worth checking out, especially for it’s pro-literacy message; the waters around Read Island may be a little rocky, but it’s worth the trip. 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.)

Share This Book (Dr. John Hutton)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Share This Book, written by Dr. John Hutton and illustrated by Christina Brown, a book for both parents and toddlers about the joys and importance of reading together.

Using vignettes of a diverse cast of families, the light story uses simple rhymes to lay out the basics of the”SHARE STEP” method of reading with very young children. First, it shows a family cuddled together for storytime (S = “Snuggle”), then a parent allowing their child to handle the book and turn the pages (H = “Hands On!”), etc. A short blurb about the method including acrostics of the fundamentals are featured on the back cover.

As you might imagine, we definitely liked this! We’re huge advocates for literacy and shared reading, so a book that can not only entertain very little ones while helping their parents find ways to help them learn and grow through books speaks to us! And it accomplishes its goal very well: the rhymes are mostly simple, easily read-aloud, and have a warm and soothing tone. The illustrations use a muted color palette that will be easy on developing eyes, though I wish there had been either more contrast for the very youngest bookworms or more color to engage toddlers. Still, the characters are adorable, drawn with Disney-like button noses and open, expressive faces. The length is perfect for the very young, and JJ loved all the babies. This is great way to start baby bookworms on the path to literacy, and we really enjoyed 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.)

Read The Book, Lemmings! (Ame Dyckman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Read The Book, Lemmings!, written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah OHora, a hilariously silly tale of three little lemmings and the dangers of illiteracy.

Captain PB and Foxy the first mate are sailing their container ship/whale, the S.S. Cliff, through a frozen sea when they are joined by three adorable little lemmings. Brushing up on the creatures, Foxy is surprised to learn from his book that lemmings do NOT, in fact, jump off of cliffs. But the moment he says the word “jump” aloud, the three headstrong lemmings decide that this sounds like fun, and leap into the frigid ocean! Foxy hurries to rescue them, warm them up, then give them names (so he can properly scold them). He urges them to read the book, but after a few disastrous failed attempts to keep them out of the water, he realizes that the lemmings cannot read. Having earned their love and devotion through his multiple rescues, Foxy teaches the lemmings to read so that they can discover for themselves the truth of lemmings – though it does little to temper their adventurous spirits…

Wonderful! Having adored Dyckman and OHora’s previous collaborations, I was so excited to read this one, and it did not disappoint! The story is light, original, and a perfect mix of silly and sweet. OHora’s signature matte paintings create bright, bold visuals with adorable and expressive characters, and the witty text is a delight to read aloud. The length is perfect, and JJ and I had a blast reading it. A splendid and silly tale with a touch of heart, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

ABC See, Hear, Do: Learn To Read 55 Words (Stefanie Hohl)

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

Hello, everybody! Today’s book is ABC See, Hear, Do: Learn To Read 55 Words by Stefanie Hohl, an alphabet and word comprehension method developed to help toddlers learn to read.

Created by Hohl, a mother and children’s author/illustrator/educator, the ABC See, Hear, Do method ties together a letter’s shape (C) with its sound (C-c-c-c) and an action to represent it (scratching one’s fingers like a cat). Hohl’s assertion is that by giving children a visual, auditory and physical association for each letter, it can help them memorize the letters and sounds, eventually tying them together to create words. Each page in the book features a letter, it’s phonetic pronunciation, and an illustrated animal making the gesture associated with it, with regular breaks to attempt short three-letter words with the letters the reader has just learned.

It’s tough to give a comprehensive review on the book’s method, as we’ve only just read it for the first time today, but I would definitely say that it has promise. JJ was able to mimic the gestures I demonstrated for her while making the letter sounds (she has already begun learning letters, so we’re at a good point for her to start this method), and seemed to enjoy both the actions and illustrations. She was not quite ready to attempt the words yet, so we will see. But overall, this seems like a unique way of encouraging pre-readers to learn their letters and words, especially very visual and/or physical learners, and we will likely continue to try it with JJ. If this seems like a good way to help your little one get on the track to reading, I would definitely check it out! Baby Bookworm approved!

Madeline Finn And The Library Dog (Lisa Papp)

Hello, everyone! Today, we read Madeline Finn And The Library Dog by Lisa Papp, a wonderfully sweet story about friendship and perseverance.

Madeline Finn does NOT like to read. She’s not very good at it, and while she tries very hard, she gets embarrassed and frustrated when she messes up. The other kids even laugh at her sometimes when she struggles, which makes her want to read even less. One Saturday, her mother takes her to the library, where the librarian offers a new reading partner: a big fluffy white dog named Bonnie. When Madeline reads to Bonnie, her furry friend is patient and understanding, and never laughs at her. As Madeline practices, she finds she gets better and better. But the day before she is to read in front of her whole class, Bonnie is gone! Can Madeline find the courage and confidence to read aloud in front of everyone?

Who doesn’t love a book about the bond between a child and a dog? Library dogs are becoming more and more prevalent (due to their effectiveness), so it was really cool to see a book about what a fantastic impact they can make on a child’s literacy and confidence. Plus, any book that encourages little ones to read, even if they have to work hard to learn how, is a great book in our eyes. The illustrations are adorably pleasant and bring a lot of life to Madeline and especially Bonnie. JJ loved this one, and the length was just on the longer side of good for baby bookworms, but not too long for patient readers. Overall, a great story about persistence and friendship, and Baby Bookworm approved!