Oscar The Octopus: A Book About the Months of the Year (Matthew Van Fleet)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Oscar The Octopus: A Book About the Months of the Year by Matthew Van Fleet, an aquatic, interactive adventure for little bookworms.

Readers follow the mostly unseen – save for his tentacles – Oscar as he spends the year catching a menagerie of sea creatures (it’s never directly explained what he DOES with the creatures he captures, and eventually they are all released). With each page dedicated to a month of the year, a touch-and-feel element – along with the text – gives the reader a clue as to what creature Oscar has caught this time; a lift-the-flap and label reveals the various sea animals, such as lionfish, sea otters, sharks, cuttlefish and more. At last, when his year of fishing is done, Oscar feels a tickle in his nose. Letting loose a mighty sneeze, he releases his smiling collection of new friends back out into the sea.

Tons of fun. While the light story is a little confusing, and the subtitle a tad misleading (the subject matter has as much to do with sea animals, colors, and the touch-and-feel sensory elements as the months of the year), the final product is so much fun for little readers that it’s easily forgivable. JJ had an absolute blast feeling sticky cuttlefish tentacles and discovering furry penguin chicks, and begged to be read the story a second time the moment we finished – always a telling sign of how engaging a book is. Van Fleet’s illustrations strike a good balance between natural authenticity and cartoon appeal for each of the creatures, and the story is a brisk yet immensely entertaining read. A lovely addition to any curious young bookworm’s library, 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.)

Hap-pea All Year (Keith Baker)

Hello, friends! Today, we read Hap-pea All Year by Keith Baker, a pod-sitively charming look at the calendar with some very sweet peas.

Starting with January, each two-page spread is dedicated to a short rhyme about each calendar month, accompanied by a bowlful of cheerful little peas celebrating the season and holidays of that month. After each month has been introduced, the calendar comes together to wish the reader a very hap-pea new year!

A simple book with a simple concept, yet joyfully and exuberantly executed. The rhymes are short and bouncy, and lots of fun to read to little ones. The art is the real star of the show, though, as Baker creates a whole world on each page with his cast of tiny peas, each one filled with its own personality. This makes it a great book for re-reading: Short and breezy enough for a quick story, but filled with wonderfully detailed illustrations that can be closely examined and fuel young imaginations. JJ loved this one, and the length and subject, even the size of the book, make it perfect for babies and toddlers. This one’s a winner! Baby Bookworm approved!