Lizzy and the Cloud (The Fan Brothers)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Lizzy and the Cloud by The Fan Brothers, a magical meditation on loving and letting go.

Every Saturday, Lizzy and her parents go for a walk in the park. And while most of the children there are drawn to the puppet shows and carousel, today, Lizzy heads straight for the cloud seller. While the vendor offers clouds in animal shapes and various sizes, Lizzy wants only a small, ordinary cloud to take home. After reading the instructions for its care, Lizzy dedicates herself to making her new cloud, Milo, feel at home. She waters him and walks him, and he nourishes her rare plant collection in turn. Until the day that Milo, being so well-cared for, has outgrown the Lizzy’s bedroom. What is a little girl to do when her cloud is ready to move out into a bigger sky?

Fabulous. We make no bones about the fact that we are fans of The Fan Brothers’ talent for telling original and unique fables that blend the extraordinary with the everyday, and this is another quietly fantastic tale to add to their catalog. The approachable yet heartfelt text beautifully explores a complicated theme: knowing when to let go of something you love. While this concept can often be a painful one, the Fans deftly explore the fulfillment in doing the right thing for something or someone you love by allowing them to move on, and in enjoying the memories of your time together, even when they are bittersweet. The Fan’s signature palette of grays is enhanced here with a muted color scheme that subtly conveys the emotions of each scene in which it appears. The length is great for an elementary storytime, and JJ loved the imagery of curly-haired Lizzy and her pet cloud. Overall, this is another stunner from the Fans, and we wholeheartedly 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.)

Lost and Found (Kate Banks & Galia Bernstein)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Lost and Found by Kate Banks and Galia Bernstein, a lovely forest fairytale of discovery and love.

One day, as wood mouse and rabbit are playing in the woods, they come upon an unusual object: a rag doll. They marvel over the unknown thing as more of their woodland pals approach and offer their own impressions. While the friends are all familiar with the sights, sounds, and scents of their forest home, everything about the rag doll is curious and new. Determined to discover the doll’s origin, they follow the small footprints out of the trees and on an adventure of exploration and emotion.

Warm and sweet. After crossing an unfamiliar stretch of gray (a road) and finding a very unique-looking den (a house), the animals complete their quest to return the doll to its home fairly quickly. This leads to a final “twist” in the story – one that emphasizes the idea that while details and environments may be unfamiliar, the feeling of love and care is universal – all the more unexpected and satisfying. Banks’s text is lovely to read aloud, managing to bring a lot of character to the collection of forest friends, something expanded on even further with Bernstein’s gorgeous illustrations. Each animal character feels fully-fleshed out and immensely endearing, adding to the emotional punch of the penultimate page. The length is great for a storytime, and JJ really enjoyed this sweet and simple tale of love. A lovely story and well worth the read – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

How Do You Love?: The Five Ways We Show We Care (Kellie Byrnes)

Hello friends and Happy Valentine’s Day! Our book today is How Do You Love?: The Five Ways We Show We Care, written by Kellie Byrnes and illustrated by Melina Ontiveros, a heartwarming and kid-friendly look at love languages.

How do we show the people that we love how we feel about them? Well, there are lots of ways! A comforting hug, a compliment on a new outfit, or a meal made with care. Maybe a surprise zoo trip! Or perhaps even helping someone out when they’re having a rough day. There are lots of ways to show our love for the special people in our lives – and plenty of opportunities to do so.

Wonderful. Taking the popular theory behind “the five love languages” – words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch – Byrnes takes a familiar adult concept and breaks it down into child-friendly language, in a way that encourages young readers to think about how they and the people around them might show love. Byrnes comes up with some great examples of each “language,” then uses an afterward to further explore these concepts in more detail (such as pointing out that physical touch should always be consensual, or quality time allows us to connect emotionally by giving undivided attention). Ontiveros’s cartoon illustrations are bright, colorful, and fit the theme perfectly, but what truly stands out is the diversity of her characters: a myriad of skintones, body types, hair textures, religions, abilities, LGBTQ+ identities, and more are given representation, and never in a way that feels exploitative. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ and I truly enjoyed this one from start to finish. This a fantastic way to talk to kids about love and how we can express it, and we highly 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.)

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch (Eileen Spinelli)

Hello, friends! Part two of our special weekend reviews, and a great one for Valentine’s Day eve: Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, written by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Paul Yalowitz, a classic story of the good that one Valentine can do.

Lonely Mr. Hatch leads a very humdrum life: he goes to work at the shoelace factory, eats his lunch alone, buys the same two things at the same two shops on the way home, then goes to bed – day in and day out. That is, until the day the postman brings him a enormous box of chocolates! The card reads only: “Somebody loves you”. Ecstatic over the revelation of having a secret admirer, Mr. Hatch finds a pep in his step and a smile on his face. He shares the chocolate with coworkers and shakes up his routine. He connects with the shopkeepers and offers them help when they are in need of assistance. He bakes brownies and hosts picnics for the neighborhood. For weeks, he seems like a new man – that is, until the postman returns…

Genuinely sweet. Celebrating it’s 30th anniversary, Spinelli’s tale proves itself to have timeless appeal with a story about the importance and impact of small kindnesses. While Mr. Hatch’s first Valentine turns out to be the result of a mistake, it inspires him to find the self-esteem to reach out and show love to others, who return the sentiment in his time of need. It’s a classic theme and executed in a way that is truly heartwarming. Yalowitz’s illustrations have a nice use of color to show the rise and fall of Mr. Hatch’s self esteem, but do show their age a bit: most of the characters present as white with very few representations of diversity in any sense. The length is best for elementary readers, but JJ and I both enjoyed the touching story. This is a great way to explore the importance of kindness and expressing love to, 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.)

My Heart Grows (Jeffrey Burton)

Hello, friends! Our book today is My Heart Grows, written by Jeffrey Burton and illustrated by Joanne Liu, a sweet board book about the bond between caregivers and their little ones.

First, a heart beats for one; but when that one heart welcomes a child into their life, it beats for two and just keeps growing. It grows as the child does – as they learn, as they laugh, as they cry, as they figure out how to be brave. With every adventure, every setback, and every life lesson, a heart grows and grows, and so do the other hearts that love it.

Heartwarming. A gentle look at the bond between a parent/caregiver and the child who makes their heart grow. Simple, earnest rhyming text is fairly easy to read aloud (though there were a few meter inconsistencies that tripped me up) and warmly tender in its tone. Brightly colored child-like illustrations are delightful and surprisingly atmospheric. One small disappointment was that while the parent/caregiver-child pairs depicted do feature some racial diversity, there is only one non-traditional caregiver (a grandparent) and no sign of blended families, which feels like a missed opportunity. However, everything else about the book is a delight, especially the clever use of the heart cutouts to fit the theme of a growing heart. The length was great for a quick and easy read, and JJ enjoyed it. Overall, Baby Bookworm approved!

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