Little Dinos Don’t Hit (Michael Dahl)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Little Dinos Don’t Hit, written by Michael Dahl and illustrated by Adam Record, one of a four-part series of board books to help little ones control their tempers.

Little dinos have lots of energy! But sometimes, that energy can be angry or upset. And when it is, it’s important to remember not to use that energy to hit others. Instead, try to channel it into helping. Little sister is crying because she knocked down her block tower? Don’t hit, help instead – rebuild the tower together! Little brother upset about his broken bicycle? Don’t hit, help! You two can figure out how to fix it, and then you can go for a ride! The most important thing to remember is that little dinos should not use their energy to hit – not when they can be such excellent helpers.

Sweet and, well, helpful. The author-illustrator pair’s Little Dinos series aims to help younger readers with explosive emotional reactions (other titles deal with yelling, biting, and pushing), which is something that all little bookworms and their caregivers have to deal with at some point. The barebones text and brightly colored illustrations of this story get the message across well: hands are much better put to use helping than hitting. I wish there had been a little more suggestion or instruction on how to calm gut reactions that might cause kids to lash out, such as taking a deep breath or counting to five, but the simplicity of the book works to its advantage in other ways, notably that it is easy enough for early readers to pick up and memorize. The characters are extremely cute, and JJ loved them. This would be a great way to introduce a little anger management for the youngest bookworms, and we recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Good Night, Mr. Panda (Steve Antony)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Good Night, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony, a wonderful fourth entry to one of our favorite series.

The hilariously taciturn Mr. Panda is back – this time in adorable doughnut pajamas – with a lesson in proper bedtime routine etiquette. He notes, matter-of-factly, when his fellow animals have skipped a step: Skunk has missed his bath (which he claims to take only once a year), the sheep aren’t wearing pajamas, and stinky breath is a sure sign that Hippo hasn’t brushed her teeth. The perky lemur from the previous two books is happy to point out that he is minty fresh and squeaky clean! Only one more thing left to do before bedtime: say goodnight!

If you’ve read our previous reviews of this series, you know: I LOVE Mr. Panda. JJ LOVES Mr. Panda. The stone-faced bear in his wonderfully colorful outfits, set with a lively cast of characters against colorblock backgrounds, teaching manners and, in this case, good hygiene? Simply put, a winning mix. As always, the story features plenty of opportunities for fun voices when read aloud, and a hilarious twist ending that will have kids rolling. The length is great, and we adored it. Antony continues his stellar series with another delightful installment, and a perfect bedtime one at that. Baby Bookworm approved!

Pet Dad (Elanna Allen)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Pet Dad by Elanna Allen, the story of a stubborn little girl and her equally stubborn dad.

Plum wants nothing more than a pet of her own. Her dad, however, wants nothing more than NO pets. So Plum decides to make do with what she’s got, and declares her dad to be her pet, renaming him Schnitzel. She attempts to feed him yard clippings (which resemble his boring grown-up salad) and paper train him (he prefers to READ the paper during potty time instead), but is met with his stubborn refusal at every turn. A day at the park is met with more conflict when Plum demands he “fetch” her an ice cream cone, and is instead punished with a time-out for her behavior. Given time to think, Plum realizes her training error: she never gave her “pet” a reward. And there’s not reward that pet dads like more than a hug.

Very mixed feelings. For one, the illustrations were so cute – Plum and her dad are both immensely expressive and endearing, and I loved the creative typesets for key dialogue and concepts. There’s also a sweet message about manners in there as well, but I don’t know. Overall, the story felt too odd to me. There was something very uncomfortable about a little girl pulling her shocked father on his hands and knees, using his necktie as a leash. And while I realize that the intent was to show children that it’s necessary to be polite and not overbearing on their parents, the message that hugs are “rewards” also hit a strangely sour note for me as well. Hugs should be given because they are wanted, not as a commodity or to get one’s way. It’s a shame, because the art is so precious, and the length is fine, but even JJ seemed puzzled with Plum’s behavior. Overall, not for us.

What If Everybody Said That? (Ellen Javernick)

Hello, friends! Our book today is What If Everybody Said That?, written by Ellen Javernick and illustrated by Colleen Madden, a lesson in considering the impact our words and actions can have on others.

A little girl with a host of bad manners displays her rudeness in number of scenarios, beginning with not allowing boys to play with her in the park. “What if everybody said that?” the boys’ mother asks, and the following page gives a number of examples of people excluding others for arbitrary reasons. This model repeats, each time showing the same little girl acting impolite, selfish, or thoughtless in both her behavior and words: she mocks other children’s artwork, refuses to share her lunch with a hungry student, and teases others based on their appearance or aptitude. Each time she is admonished by being asked to consider what the world would be like if everyone acted so callous. At last, her mother’s final scolding hits home, and the little girl starts to make amends for her behavior.

I was actually sort of disappointed by this one. While the atrocious behavior of the girl certainly warrants consideration, the central theme of “words hurt” was hit-or-miss; often it was the girl’s actions that were just as, if not more, hurtful. Also, while it was nice that she finally started down a kinder path, she only made amends for ONE of her transgressions – the others went unpunished and not apologized for. And after such epic rudeness, her sudden change of heart felt too abrupt. The art was just fine, using a diverse cast and some poignant visuals, the length was fine, and JJ liked it okay, but it lacked a certain sense of satisfaction that one would expect in a morality tale. Still, a classic lesson worthy of learning, so Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Huggy The Python Hugs Too Hard & Roary The Lion Roars Too Loud (Ame Dyckman)

Hello, friends! Today’s review is of two board books from the Wee Beasties series: Huggy The Python Hugs Too Hard and Roary The Lion Roars Too Loud, both written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Alex G. Griffiths.

Aiming to help little ones learn basic social skills, both books introduce adorable characters with lessons to learn. For instance, Huggy the python loves to hug the things he loves, but he finds that when he hugs things too tight (such as a balloon or an ice cream sundae), he can break or hurt them. Similarly, Roary the lion loves to let loose his big roar, more often than not startling his family members. In both cases, the reader is employed to help teach the character how to calmly interact, gently hugging a puppy and quietly wishing a baby “night-night.” And once the reader sets such a wonderful example, the characters learn how to gently and responsibly show their excitement.

We LOVED these! The lessons were well-imparted, necessary, and used the interactive elements in both fun and educational ways. The characters and illustrations were absolutely charming, and the friendly conversational text made reading them aloud a joy. The lengths were perfect, and JJ had an absolute blast with them, especially the interactive pages and the art. Even the clever twist at the end of Roary was perfect. I hope to see more of this series very soon, because these two are emphatically Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: Copies of these books were provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)