Cat Dog (Mem Fox & Mark Teague)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Cat Dog by Mem Fox and Mark Teague, a seemingly-simple yet surprisingly intriguing look at narratives and point of view.

There are two things the reader can be sure of: 1) there is a dog in this book, and b) there is a cat in this book. Beyond that, the details can get, well… fuzzy. The description of a simple scenario between a dog, a cat, and a mouse in a living room becomes more complex with the introduction of unreliable narration and shifting perspectives. As the story unfolds, readers can decide for themselves what actually took place – and what happens next.

Deceptively complex. The idea of unreliable narration can be tricky for children’s books, but this one balances the concept well with a simplified story, uncomplicated text and some hilariously illustrative artwork. As each page asks a question of the reader, and the following page answers with either yes or no, giving young bookworms the opportunity to guess for themselves what might happen next, and leaves the final question open-ended so they can imagine how the story might further unfold. It’s a clever concept, and very well executed. The illustrations do a great job of portraying the multiple possibilities presented through subtle shifts in tone, details, and the body language of the animals. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ really enjoyed this one, especially the twists and turns and easy-to-read text. Overall, this was a really interesting read, and well worth checking out. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Roly Poly (Mem Fox & Jane Dyer)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Roly Poly by Mem Fox and Jane Dyer, a sweet and wintery tale of brotherhood.

Roly Poly lives alone with his mother and father, and that’s just fine with him. He has his room and his bed all to himself, he gets to eat the fish he catches without having to share, and when he plays with his favorite walrus tooth, nobody bothers him. That is, until he wakes one morning to find someone else sleeping in his bed: Monty, his new brother. And now, everywhere that Roly goes, Monty tails behind. The newcomer is always climbing all over him, trying to play, and trying to touch his fish and favorite walrus tooth! So when Monty accidentally gets stuck on an ice floe – one that is slowly drifting out to sea – Roly Poly initially says good riddance. But when Roly hears his little brother’s pleas for help, he finds he can’t abandon Monty in his hour of need.

Sweet. This tale of new siblinghood hits some of the classic beats one might expect, and the resolution is heartwarming with a touch of realism; Roly Poly accepts and loves his brother, even though he still finds him annoying sometimes. Yet Fox and Dyer – veteran kidlit creators – know exactly how to make a simple concept sparkle. The guileless, matter-of-fact tone of the text perfectly captures the inner dialogue of a little one, and the incredible needle-felted characters against miniature backgrounds create visuals that are simple, accessible, and full of heart. JJ was particularly drawn to this one, with the earnest characters who behaved like believable children (despite being polar bears), and the cuddly-cute artwork. The length was great for a storytime, too. This one would be a great gift for any big siblings who may be dealing with their own little brother or sister woes; a reminder that irritation is temporary, and family love is far stronger. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Wombat Divine (Mem Fox)

Happy Holidays Week, Day 3: Hello, everybody! Today’s book is Wombat Divine, written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Kerry Argent, a very sweet tale of a wombat, a nativity play, and a dream.

Of all the holidays, Wombat loves Christmas most of all! He especially loves the Nativity play, and wants more than anything to be part of it this year. But when he goes to audition, he just doesn’t seem to be right for any of the parts, no matter how hard he tries, nor the encouragement of his friends. Can Wombat find the part that will be right for him?

Choosing this book based on the cover and title alone (and, really, how could I resist?), I was so pleasantly surprised by what a cool Christmas story this was! Wombat’s perseverance in the face of disappointment, the earnest support and kindness of his friends, and the adorable resolution are all great. Plus, in the spirit of exploring the way other cultures celebrate their holidays, this is a decidedly Aussie holiday book: every character is an indigenous Australian animal, and it features a bright and sunny summer Christmas. The length is just fine for baby bookworms, the illustrations are charming, and JJ had a great time reading it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Nellie Belle (Mem Fox & Mike Austin)

Hello, everyone! Today, we read the adorable book Nellie Belle by Mem Fox & Mike Austin, a singsong rhyming book about a playful little dog.

Nellie Belle has fun wherever she goes. One day, she is having fun digging in her own yard, when she finds she’s dug herself right under the fence and out the other side! So, why not go exploring? She meets new friends on the street, at the beach, even in the sea! But when she wanders in the park in the dark, she gets a bit spooked. So she decides to run home to where she has the most fun of all: curled up in her own bed with her teddy bear.

This was an adorable, simple story that is perfect for baby bookworms! The rhyme scheme has lots of repetition and the words and concepts are very toddler-friendly, and the colorful illustrations are full of details and humor that can be fully discovered and appreciated as children grow. The length is perfect for even the littlest readers, and JJ lit up while we read it! This is a fun one for all ages, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Ten Little Fingers And Ten Little Toes (Mem Fox & Helen Oxenbury)


Summer Reading Day 52: Today’s pick was Ten Little Fingers And Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox & Helen Oxenbury. This is an adorable book, perfect for baby bookworms in length, subject and artwork. It compares babies born in different places, of different skin colors, to different families and different cultures, noting that no matter how different they might seem, all these babies ten little fingers and toes.

It’s a simple concept told with adorable illustrations of chubby little fingers, toes, cheeks and knees, which a nice underlying message that people from all walks of life all started as babies. Thumbs up.