I Don’t Care (Julie Fogliano)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Don’t Care, written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Molly Idle and Juana Martinez-Neal, a tale of friendship transcending differences.

At first, the two unnamed child characters are clear that they don’t much care what the other thinks of their appearance. They don’t care what the other thinks of their talents or families either. And they don’t care what the other looks like, or how they draw a cow, or how big or small their house is. As the pair visibly soften their stances and expressions to each other, the reader is clued in: they don’t care about these surface things, but instead care about how the other thinks, feels, and acts. They only care about their friendship, and how to be better friends to each other; about these things, they care a lot.

Sweet and heartfelt, if a little routine. Fogliano’s rhyming text is metered perfectly and reads like a dream, and the concept of having real-life besties Idle and Martinez-Neal combining their illustration styles is inspired. Yet looking at the extremely similar design of the protagonists – both have chin-length straight hair, the same pale skintone, round faces, button noses, and identical body shapes – one can’t help but see the missed opportunities to further explore the concept of a diverse and supportive friendship, as well as the concept of two separate art styles coming together. Overall, the collab between these three kidlit rockstars has a great message and is perfectly enjoyable, but it feels like it could have been more. Soft artwork and spare colors work well with the narrative tone, the length is great for a storytime, and JJ and I enjoyed it. Absolutely worth a look, and Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Pearl (Molly Idle)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Pearl by Molly Idle, a fable of mermaids and the importance of little things.

Beneath the ocean’s gentle waves, mermaids – the guardians of the deep – work to protect the sea’s most precious things. Some tend the forests of kelp, some keep their eye on the colorful coral reefs, and some protect the giant, majestic creatures. One little mermaid, Pearl, longs to do her part. She informs her mother that she is ready, and after a moment’s consideration, her mother agrees. Taking Pearl up to a sparkling shoreline, she assigns the young mermaid her task: protecting a single grain of sand. Pearl is heartbroken, seeing her mother’s instruction as a cruel joke, and sinks down to the bottom of the ocean in despair. Squeezing the grain of sand in anger, she is surprised to see it begin to glow. Gently holding it once more, she begins to see the little grain become larger, smoother, and luminescent. Pearl commits herself to her task, and with a bit of patience and dedication, she will find that even the smallest grain of sand has the potential for greatness.

Fabulous. This is the rare children’s story that is simple enough to be enjoyed by a reader of any age, yet so layered and complex that multiple lessons and meanings can be taken from it. A reflection on the environment, or how no effort is too small, or how every great thing began as something little, or the gift of nurturing care – this lovely little fable is all of the above and more. Idle’s muted oceanic color palette is as soothing as it is gorgeous, and her incredible animation-style art is a thing of beauty. The length is fine for all ages, and JJ was memorized by Pearl’s undersea adventure. A treasure, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Sea Rex (Molly Idle)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Sea Rex by Molly Idle, the third in her positively charming Rex series.

Rex and his two young friends – Cordelia and her younger brother – head down to the beach for a day of fun and sun. But just like their previous outings, there are certain rules of etiquette and safety to be followed, which the text enlightens the reader to: staying in sight of a lifeguard, using plenty of sunscreen, and being sure to hunt for seaside treasures. During their day, the trio meet new dinosaurs during their adventures, which leads one more rule of beachgoing – the best day at the beach is one spent with friends.

So adorable. Idle’s delightfully cheeky style of combining instructional text with the tongue-in-cheek, beautifully laid-out, and incredibly endearing illustrations makes for a fun read no matter the age. Dino-lovers like JJ will be particularly pleased with the friendly-looking dinosaurs and the children’s interactions with them. The length is perfect, and JJ was grinning for every page. A fantastic summertime read, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Tea Rex (Molly Idle)

Summer Reading Day 83: Hello, everybody! Our book today was Tea Rex by Molly Idle, a humorous story about proper tea party etiquette when one of your guests is a humongous T-Rex! Cordelia and her brother invite their friend Mr. Rex for afternoon tea, and while his massive size and sometimes-beastly manner causes a bit of fuss, they do their best to entertain their guest as polite hosts do, and have a lovely, if exhausting, tea party with their friend.

What a sweet, funny book! It juxtaposes the very formal rules of a fancy tea party with hilarious illustrations that highlight the charms and difficulties of Cordelia and her brother’s rather unorthodox teatime companion. The story text is short and fun to read, and the length is just about perfect for a Baby Bookworm. Plus, I loved that it showed a male child character having a lovely time at a tea party, and a female character who enjoys her fancy dress and begonias as much as she loves her dinosaur pal. This book is definitely a must for the little girl who loves princesses as much as she loves pteranodons. Baby Bookworm approved!