King Alice (Matthew Cordell)

Hello, friends! Our book today is King Alice by Matthew Cordell, a delightfully silly slice of life for one very creative little girl and her family.

Snowed in yet again, Alice’s daddy wakes up to his rambunctious young daughter who has declared herself King Alice (“You mean… Queen?” “No! KING!”). After suggesting a few less-than-ideal activities to her beleaguered father, she decides that the two will write a book. With Alice composing the story and daddy drawing the illustrations, the events of the book mirror their own day: eating breakfast, having a tea party, a unicorn stampede (inspired by a quick television break), bathtime, etc. Alice’s mommy and baby sibling are featured characters, as are her cat and favorite toys. And after a day of adventure (and one time-out after a bout of naughtiness), the book of King Alice is complete, leaving Alice excited for all the fun they’ll have tomorrow (and exhausted dad hoping that the snow clears up overnight).

A hilariously realistic look at the mind of a child, with a fun wink-and-nudge message to their parents. Alice and her family’s day, from the declaration of her title to the sense of relief at bedtime, felt so accurate from start to finish that I couldn’t help but chuckle. But Cordell does a good job of balancing her father’s reactions to Alice’s antics – from bemused to harrowed to accidentally injured – with the charm and humor of that age. It makes the story all the more identifiable for adult readers and engaging and entertaining for young bookworms. The frenetic, scribbly-scratchy art fits the tone perfectly, and there are some great details to be found on each page (did I spy a framed picture of the TARDIS?). The length was perfect, and we had a hoot reading it. A great book to enjoy together, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Wolf In The Snow (Matthew Cordell)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the winner of the 2018 Caldecott Medal, Wolf In The Snow by Matthew Cordell, a story in pictures about courage and a kindness repaid.

Told almost entirely without text, the story begins with a little girl in a bright red coat setting off to school one day, just as a pack of wolves and their cub begin a journey of their own. Later, as the girl starts back towards home and the wolf pack continues on, a snow begins to fall, quickly blanketing in the landscape in white and obscuring visibility for the travelers. The wolf cub becomes separated, and soon both it and the little girl find themselves lost – then they find each other. Seeing the cub struggling to move through the deep snow, and hearing it’s family howling for it the distance, the girl picks the cub up and sets out towards the wolf calls. Braving obstacles, animals, and her own fear, the girl returns the cub and sets back towards her own home, but finds she is now too exhausted and cold to continue on, and collapses. Seeing this, the pack surrounds her, protecting her from the elements and using their howls to direct the girl’s searching family to her rescue.

Really sweet. It does take a special pictures-only book to hold JJ’s attention (she typically prefers a verbal narrative), but she was enthralled with the story. This is absolutely due to the art, which conveys all the emotion, tension, and characterization needed to portray a moving tale of why it’s important to do the right thing, even if it’s hard or scary. The length is what you make it, depending on how you explore the book with your little ones, and we both enjoyed the strong theme and visuals. A lovely lesson in kindness and selflessness, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!