Karate Kid (Rosanne L. Kurstedt)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Karate Kid, written by Rosanne L. Kurstedt and illustrated by Mark Chambers, a delightful introduction to the vernacular and practice of karate.

A spiritual sequel to the entertaining Yoga Frog (which features the same illustrator and a different author), this entertaining mini-manual follows Goat, a literal “karate kid”, through his karate class. Beginning with rituals that display respect for the past masters, his teacher and his fellow students, Goat practices his various strikes, kicks, blocks, and stances, learning both the form and the language of each new skill.

Like Yoga Frog before it, this clever little book does a nice job of balancing a respectful look at a practice’s cultural roots in a kid-friendly way for young readers. Each element of karate that’s covered – from the rituals of respect to the traditional garb to the various movements – are accompanied by the Japanese translation (phonetic, not kanji). This is an especially great detail for young students of the discipline, as most dojos encourage learning the traditional terminology. The illustrations, which feature Goat and his sensei on single-color backgrounds, are charming, though occasionally limiting; movement in particular is difficult to portray, and certain kicks or strikes may require more research. Still, a robust afterward provides plenty of resources for further learning. The length is great, and JJ and I had a ton of fun with this one. A fantastic companion or introduction for little readers interested in karate, 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.)

Mrs. Claus Takes The Reins (Sue Fliess)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Mrs. Claus Takes The Reins, written by Sue Fliess and illustrated by Mark Chambers, a cheerful girl-powered Christmas adventure.

Santa Claus has come down with a nasty cold! There’s no way he can fly around the world delivering presents tonight, so Christmas is cancelled! But that simply won’t do for Mrs. Claus – organizing the reindeer and elves, she volunteers to take up Santa’s position. She and the team load the sleigh, traverse the globe, and ensure smiling faces on Christmas morning, handling all sorts of problems that crop up with aplomb. Soon, the very last present is delivered, and Mrs. Claus is given a hero’s welcome for her return.

This was so much fun! In addition to a fast-paced, exciting story for little readers, there’s a wonderful girl-power subtext – no one questions if Mrs. Claus is up to the task, and she problem-solves with quick thinking and grace (“I may not have magic, but I’ve got a brain!”). The illustrations are colorful, lively, and appropriately festive, and the bouncy rhymes are a delight to read aloud. The length was great, and JJ loved it. A lovely holiday reminder that girls are capable and clever – including the one who happens to be married to Old Saint Nick. 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.)

Yoga Frog (Nora Carpenter)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Yoga Frog, written by Nora Carpenter and illustrated by Mark Chambers, a wonderful introduction to yoga from a very flexible frog.

Just like you, Yoga Frog can sometimes feel stressed, or anxious, or just plain yucky. But when he’s feeling this way, he likes to practice his yoga poses, and he invites to you join in. Moving through eighteen different poses from Mountain to Resting, Yoga Frog shows how the readers should position themselves, sometimes making notes about the intention or goal of the pose. After he’s moved through his session, Yoga Frog feels much better – and hopes you do too!

Very cute! There’s a lot to like from this yoga primer, especially the clear yet charming demonstrative illustrations, the text that helps connect little bodies and minds to the poses, and the inclusion of the Sanskrit translations of every pose. As in other kids’ yoga books, the decision was made to change the names of some of the poses (Warrior becomes Giraffe, Child’s Pose is called Hawk In Nest, etc.). It’s kind of an odd choice, especially because it was done for so many poses here, and might turn off readers looking for more accuracy. However, if the idea is simply to start teaching wiggly little bodies to calm and center themselves, this is a great book to start with. The illustrations are fun, JJ loved the little frog, and the length was easily read through in a sitting. 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.)