I Love My Fur! (Kelly Leigh Miller)

Hello, friends! We’re wrapping up spooky season this year with our last Halloween-inspired review: I Love My Fur! by Kelly Leigh Miller, a clever and hair-raising tale about humility.

Taking place in the same monster- and cryptid-filled classroom of Miller’s previous work, I Love My Fangs!, this title centers around young Bigfoot, a creature of head-to-toe hair. After receiving some lovely compliments on their lustrous locks, Bigfoot begins to develop quite the ego, attempting to turn all conversations to their fur and offering unsolicited advice on how others can achieve such beautiful long hair. Bigfoot even refuses to get a furcut, leading the hair to grow to lengths that are disruptive and cumbersome to the other kids in class. At last, Bigfoot begins to realize that their hair is actually keeping friends away, as is their behavior regarding it. Fortunately, this clever cryptid knows just what to do.

Delightful. First, as fans of I Love My Fangs!, it was awesome to get a closer look at the mythical creature elementary class briefly glimpsed in that title. Once again, Miller adds subtle and wonderfully clever details and visual gags that make the classroom scenes a treat for readers of all ages, such as the gorgon child wearing sunglasses or little Dracula reading about teeth. And the concise, conversational dialogue does double duty, using approachable language to explore topics like narcissism and self-centeredness in a way that younger readers can connect and empathize with. I was also pleased by how Bigfoot is never explicitly gendered – it’s a subtle choice but an important one when talking about self-image. It’s very well done, and a fun read to boot. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved it, especially the large and easy-to-read print. A spooky story with a great message, and we liked it! Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Knock Knock, Trick or Treat!: A Spooky Halloween Lift-the-Flap Book (Amy E. Sklansky)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Knock Knock, Trick or Treat!: A Spooky Halloween Lift-the-Flap Book, written by Amy E. Sklansky and illustrated by Chiara Galletti, a fun board book for little ghouls and goblins.

Readers can enjoy a trick-or-treating adventure through a very spooky neighborhood in this Halloween-themed lift-the-flap monster mash. Each of ten front door flaps opens to the reveal a different creepy creature within: a werewolf, a zombie, a vampire, a cyclops, and more! At what appears to be a neighborhood gathering on the final page, readers are assured that these monstrous neighbors aren’t actually scary – after all, they love candy, just like you and me!

Festively cute. Monster fans will delight with the cast of beasties on display, especially lesser-used monsters like the cyclops (a word JJ really enjoyed learning). Galletti’s illustrations are marvelously detailed, adding tons of clever visual gags and Easter eggs that make each “home” and its occupant unique. The rhyming text is simple, has a great rhythm, and is fun to read aloud, even if the lines written on the instead of the flaps can be tricky to make out, especially if you open any of the double doors in the wrong order (plus, as any caregiver with lift-a-flap books knows, those rhymes will be long gone if the flap is torn off by a rambunctious young reader). Also, it was a strange choice that the book revolves around collecting candy through trick-or-treating, yet none of the monsters are offering candy when their doors are opened; its an odd choice that feels like a missed opportunity. Otherwise, the length is perfect for a quick storytime, and JJ enjoyed it. This was a fun and festive way to celebrate the spooky season – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Do Not Go In There! (Ariel Horn)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Do Not Go In There!, written by Ariel Horn and illustrated by Izzy Burton, a delightful fantasy about the power of possibility.

Morton and Bogart, two colorful, oddly-constructed creatures, are playing with blocks when they encounter a most curious thing: a red door. A red door with a SHINY gold doorknob. A very TEMPTING door, to the excitable and optimistic Morton. A very FOREBODING door, to the nervous and fretful Bogart. The two begin to concoct a number of theories as to what could be behind the door: “Fireworks and party balloons!” insists Morton. “Bunny-eating wolves!” cries Bogart. Yet, as the two craft ever-more preposterous theories, the question remains: to go, or not to go?

A blast! Written primarily in conversational text, delineated by two different typefaces for Morton and Bogart, this wildly entertaining tale also teaches a sweet lesson in overcoming uncertainty, and thrill of possibility. The escalating fantasizing by the two monsters is hilarious and charming, as well as a delight to read aloud, and little bookworms will identify with how overwhelming both excitement and dread can feel in the face of anticipation. The art is just as engaging, from the unique and adorable design of the central characters and of their imaginings full of candy castles, astronautical wolves, and much more. The length is perfect for a quick storytime, but it’s appeal is endlessly repeatable (JJ has requested many readings already) – always a treat when a book has such a universal message as well. Simply put, this one’s great. Emphatically Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Bo The Brave (Bethan Woollvin)


Hello, friends! Our book today is Bo The Brave by Bethan Woollvin, a lovely tale of a courageous young monster-hunter.

Young Bo lives in a castle, in a land of mountains and forests. Her older brothers, Ivar and Erik, are bold monster hunters, and Bo longs to be one too. Yet when she asks to accompany her brothers on their latest hunt, they laugh at and tease her. Determined, Bo decides to set off and catch a monster of her own – yet after a few chance encounters with friendly griffins, helpful krakens, and weepy dragons, Bo begins to question the monster-hunting lifestyle… and who the real monsters are.

Wonderful. Well-realized themes of tolerance, understanding, and compassion are explored in a story that stars a heroine for all little girls (and boys). Bo is indeed brave, but also clever, kind, inquisitive, and resolute. Upon realizing that the so-called “monsters” are only sweet beasts going about their lives, and that the true monsters are her baby dragon-kidnapping brothers, Bo fearlessly faces down her siblings and subdues the frightened, fiery tot. She then dedicates her time to learning about the beasts, rather than hunting them. It’s a wonderful message of judging by character rather than appearance, and thinking critically. The Scandinavian-style illustrations have a limited yet expressive palette, and feature some wonderfully designed characters, settings and creatures. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved Bo and her monster friends. This is a wonderful story that explores what it truly means to be brave, and we enjoyed it immensely. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Nerp! (Sarah Lynne Reul)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Nerp! by Sarah Lynne Reul, a silly twist on the classic dinnertime struggle of picky eater vs. parent.

After helping to feed his pet something the pet clearly deems less than appetizing, a young alien (monster?) sits down to his own meal. Yet no matter what delicious dishes his parents present him with – from “frizzle frazzle hotchy potch” to “verpy gurpalew” – the little one simply turns up his nose and declares, “NERP!” What can his parents do to entice him to eat? Is there any dish this particularly fickle eater will try?

Absurd fun. The alien/monster language used exclusively in the text is a mixture of words easily translated from context (nerp = nope, yerp = yup, etc), and a creative list of ridiculous-sounding meals that are loads of fun to read aloud. The meals themselves are hilariously illustrated to look as unappetizing as the little one seems to find them: one has living tentacles wiggling out of the dish. The alien/monsters themselves are charming and cute, and both picky eaters and exasperated parents will see themselves in the characters’ expressions. The resolution is a little gross – and younger bookworms may need reminding that it’s not actually an acceptable option – but not so much that it turned us off. The length was great, and JJ loved it. A delightfully silly title, 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.)