If I Was The Sunshine (Julie Fogliano & Loren Long)

Hello, friends! Our book today is If I Was The Sunshine by Julie Fogliano and Loren Long, a uniquely beautiful meditation on how love connects us.

“If I was the sunshine, and you were the day / I’d call you hello, and you’d call me to stay”, begins the beguiling rhyming text, the first of many comparisons between elements of earth or nature and the relationship between the reader and narrator (a parent-child relationship seems most obvious, but is never strictly defined). As the illustrations explore scenes of nature both tiny and vast, the rhymes explore how these natural relationships reflect that of the readers’, perhaps suggesting that true bonds between those who love each other are as complex and intricate as the glory of the living world around us.

I’m going to be honest, this one left me a little confused, but in the very best way. Most picture books are not particularly looking to challenge their adult readers as well as their young ones, but Fogliano and Long did an amazing job of creating a book that is both immediately accessible yet layered with complexity. While many comparisons the text draws are of the expected warm and fuzzy variety, many explore the more bittersweet aspects of love, such as watching one’s child grow; lines like “If you were a bird, and I was a tree / You’d call me home, and I’d call you free” have both a heartwarming and haunting quality that stays with you. Wrapped in the gorgeous earthy illustrations of nature, it casts a fascinating spell that commands a second read. The length is perfect for any age, and JJ was as engrossed by the art as I was by the text. A unique book worthy of consideration, 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.)

Love (Matt de la Peña)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the stunning and profound Love, written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Loren Long, a moving meditation on love in all its forms.

The first voices we hear, and the first faces we see, wide-eyed and smiling down at us in wonder: these are love. So, too, is the sunset sky over a happy home, no matter how modest. It’s in music, in words, in gestures of kindness. Love guides us when we are lost, comforts us when we are scared, supports us as we grow. And when the world is cold or cruel or darkened by hate, don’t despair – love will still be there to chase away the darkness once again. Even the face that stares back at you from the mirror – that’s love too. And when you go out into the world, love will be there to send you on your way, as you spread love wherever you go, with every step you take.

It’s really, really hard to describe what makes this book so special. It sounds like a pretty simple concept, and could have made for a very generic book in less-skilled hands. But this is a wonder, and I have teared up at least ten times just thinking of it. The text is simple to read yet filled with quiet depth. The illustrations are earnest and grounded in reality yet carry an overall sense of hope: a spread depicting a nightmare shows a bright light leading the dreamer away from fear, a boy hiding under a piano during an argument between his parents is comforted by his dog. It’s… real, but a reality that encourages hope and understanding and inclusion and connection in terrifying times, with the belief that these things MATTER, and will lead us into the light as well. It’s breathtaking. Please read it. We loved it. You will too. Baby Bookworm approved.

Good Day, Good Night (Margaret Wise Brown)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Good Day, Good Night, written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Loren Long, a previously unpublished work by the beloved author of Goodnight Moon that explores the differences between night and day.

A little bunny sits atop his warren, watching as the sun rises and the day begins. Sunlight fills his little rabbit village and his neighbors begin to populate the cozy lanes, delivering papers, doing chores, and playing games. A family of birds swoops and chirps, bees buzz busily around their hive. Then, as the sun begins to creep back down to the horizon, the day slows, with animals and bunny neighbors finishing their days and settling into their homes to sleep.

This is a sweet story with some real charm, exactly what you would expect from a book authored by Brown. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking here, but there is a nice cadence to the text, which is noticeably livelier during the day scenes then mellows through dusk and night, making it very pleasant to read aloud. The narrative can feel a bit disjointed at times, likely due to the story being adapted from an unpolished manuscript, but it’s not enough to sink the story. The illustrations are a good fit, bringing a fresh look to Brown’s narrative style while still making some very cute callbacks to her well-known classic stories and the Clement Hurd illustrations that accompanied them; for instance, the bunny’s bedroom is shown using the same color scheme as the baby bunny’s room from Goodnight Moon. The length was fine, and JJ enjoyed it. Overall, a very nice story of night and day that leaves the reader with a warm feeling, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!