The True West & Forgotten Founders (Mifflin Lowe)

Hello, friends! Our books today are The True West and Forgotten Founders, written by Mifflin Lowe and illustrated by Wiliam Luong, a set of anthology titles that seek to illuminate forgotten heroes.

When we think of cowboys, what do we think of? Or how about the rebels of the American Revolution? The sad fact is that when the history books get written, women and minorities tend to be left out, even if they played pivotal roles in how history was made! These titles shine a light on some of the forgotten figures who shaped the early days of the United States as well as the American West; women, BIPOC, and more.

Ambitious yet uneven. The core concept of biographical compilations like these are solid, and I love any book that covers lesser-known heroes such as Sybil Ludington, Bass Reeves, or Jackson Sundown; I also learned about quite a few more figures I’d never heard of. Yet while both books have noble, and necessary, intentions, their execution is uneven at times and incomplete at others. First, despite being billed as a more inclusive look at history, mention of LGBTQ+ identities are nonexistent; for instance, Baron von Stueben, a publicly gay military leader who played a major part in organizing the first Continental Army, is only briefly mentioned (his sexuality is not). Uncomfortable truths, such as slavery and indigenous genocide, are breezed over quickly or ignored entirely, such as in the entry about the Escalante Expedition, which led to the construction of the Californian Spanish missions. The inclusion of entries on Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody, both relatively well-known white male historical figures, is puzzling. So while the artwork and design of the books are stunning, the written content feels incomplete. We did enjoy perusing both titles, and we did learn a lot, but I couldn’t help but notice the missed opportunities for representing history through a more honest and inclusive lens. Still, while I wouldn’t call these perfect, they are absolutely worth the read: they do give a great deal of insight into some the forgotten elements of both eras. So overall, Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Dad: The Man, The Myth, The Legend (Mifflin Lowe)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dad: The Man, The Myth, The Legend, written by Mifflin Lowe and illustrated by Dani Torrent, a fun tribute to the unique awesomeness of dads.

A young bespectacled boy welcomes the reader by proudly presenting the one, the only – his Dad! A man of practically supernatural strength, genius intellect, the courage of a lion and a heart of pure gold. He does all manner of incredible things; for instance last week, when he saved the boy from the attack of a massive jungle python (afterwards necessitating the purchase of a new garden hose). He makes the boy’s favorite dinner: spaghetti with M&M’s, chocolate sauce and potato chips (Mom’s on standby with the takeout menu, no reason why). He can even FLY (sure, technically on a trampoline… that he technically broke during his landing). But perhaps best of all, he’s supportive, encouraging, nurturing, and an all-around great dad – and truly, that’s all he needs to be a hero in his son’s eyes.

Very sweet. Beginning with a comedically grandiose version of “superhero” dad, this sweet tale unfolds with humor and fondness, gradually moving past the more er, exaggerated escapades of Dad to the simple and sweet things that show his devotion to his family (a personal favorite was a scene in which the son, devastated by an embarrassingly bad haircut, is cheered up by his father proudly getting a matching one). There are plenty of nudges and winks to adults that make this a great tale for old and young bookworms to share, and the charming mid-century-inspired art is packed with personality. The length was fine for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed the family’s antics. A delightful ode to an everyday superhero, 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.)