All You Need (Howard Schwartz)

Hello, friends! Sorry we missed you the past few days – we had some family commitments that we couldn’t miss. To make it up to you, we have two special weekend reviews today and tomorrow! Our book today is All You Need, written by Howard Schwartz and illustrated by Jasu Hu, a beautiful ode to the simple necessities of life.

“All you need,” the spare verse begins, weaving a quiet contemplation of the things one needs for life. A planet, a warm sun, clouds to gather rains, trees to clean the air. Good food, fresh water, plenty of sleep. A land of welcome and people to watch over you. The freedom and ability to share your lovely thoughts and the beating heart to give you life. What a person truly needs is simple, really – life, love, health, and joy.

Beautiful. Schwartz and Hu do something rare here: telling two different stories through the text and art that weave together beautifully in theme and tone. Schwartz’s uncomplicated free verse poetry highlights the theme of simplicity, neatly choosing a list of needs that is both almost entirely accurate and evocative of emotion. The story Hu tells with the stunning watercolor artwork reflects the early life story of a young child in China, growing amongst beautiful scenery and loving family before striking out into adulthood, yet maintaining a connection to home. These elements all combine to tell a heartwarming story about life, connection, nature, culture, and love, and the result is breathtaking. The length is great for a storytime at any age, and JJ adored the dreamlike artwork and easy-to-read text. Overall, this one is an absolute work of art, and we loved 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.)

Be Thankful for Trees: A Tribute to the Many & Surprising Ways Trees Relate to Our Lives (Harriet Ziefart & Brian Fitzgerald)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Be Thankful for Trees: A Tribute to the Many & Surprising Ways Trees Relate to Our Lives by Harriet Ziefart and Brian Fitzgerald, a wonderful look at the integral part that trees play in all of our lives.

What would life be without trees? Well, just think of all the things we wouldn’t have if there were no more trees. There wouldn’t be cellos or pianos for music, and there wouldn’t be tree fruits or nuts to munch. There wouldn’t be homes for owls or birds, or paper to make art or books, or lumber for dining room tables or comfy chairs. Trees give us so much, and that’s why we must protect them, especially from man-made threats.

Fantastic! This loving ode to the many gifts given to humanity by trees manages to condense a great amount of concepts and information on our leafy pals into a charming and fun-to-read book. Ziefert’s bright, rhyming text makes for a quick read, despite the longer page count, and utilizes engaging elements like repetition to draw in young readers (JJ was gleefully parroting the repeated phrase “It would not!” by the third use). Fitzgerald’s digital illustrations capture an incredible range of atmospheres, from peaceful to dynamic, and feature a very nice diversity of skintones, ages, and body types. The length was great for an elementary storytime, and JJ loved it. Overall, this is a great way to begin a conversation on the importance of trees, and the importance of protecting them. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Acorn Was a Little Wild (Jen Arena)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Acorn Was a Little Wild, written by Jen Arena and illustrated by Jessica Gibson, a playful tale of one very adventurous young seed.

Acorn was the first of his generation to take a flying leap from the tree. The great oak warned him not to, that squirrels would get him, but Acorn didn’t care – he was ready for an adventure. This began the little seed’s journey into the wider world, filled with ups, downs, a plenty of surprises along the way. What will become of our little acorn? Will the squirrels get him after all? Or is he destined for something more.

Positively delightful. Acorn’s entrance into the unknown is amusing and heartening, especially when viewed as a metaphor for a child striking out on their own. What makes this narrative especially enjoyable, however, is Acorn’s unflappable optimism and zest for life, even in times of trouble. It keeps the tone funny and cheerful, encouraging an adventurous spirit and a sunny outlook to young readers. Arena’s text is energetic and fun to read aloud, and Gibson’s cartoonish naturescapes give lively personality to every plant and creature. The length is perfect for any storytime, and JJ had a ton of fun with this one. Overall, an absolute treat, and we highly recommend 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.)

Some Questions About Trees (Toni Yuly)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Some Questions About Trees by Toni Yuly, a sweet and simple book about the mysteries of trees.

A child in a green dress peers out a window, wondering where trees live: on the earth where their roots connect, or in the sky, where their branches stretch? Each following question is equally pondering – what is the “heart” of a tree? Are some trees shy? Do tiny trees dream of being big? One thing is for certain: trees are marvelous mysteries, and ones that are wondrous to explore.

Short but cute. This gentle collection of childlike musings about trees uses simplicity in both story and visual style to craft a peaceful meditation on nature. Celebrating both trees themselves and our connection to them, open-ended questions like “When I plant a tree, are we family?” personifies trees in a way that inspires empathy while inviting to reader to consider what the answer might be. The mixed-media art is spare, utilizing white space and innocent character designs to fit the theme well. The length is good for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed it. This is a very simple book, yet manages to inspire some deeper considerations – and appreciations – for trees. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Wildfire! (Ashley Wolff)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Wildfire! by Ashley Wolff, a fascinating look at two sides of a forest fire – the animals escaping it and the humans working to contain it.

A lightning storm strikes in the early morning hours of a dense mountain forest, leaving a spark that causes Jay to chirp out an alert: “FireFireFire in the forest!”. As various animals seek shelter, protect themselves from, and cry warnings of the advancing flames, a team of dedicated humans – from fire lookouts to pilots to smokejumpers – spring into action to contain the fire as quickly as possible. As the night falls, their brave actions and some fortunate weather extinguish the flames, and the humans head home, leaving the forest’s animals to find growth and new life in the aftermath of the wildfire.

Exciting and educational. Wolff provides a brief yet incredibly thorough look at the impact of forest fires: how they’re fought, how they affect wildlife, and even how they can be a beneficial incident in some ecosystems’ life cycles. Switching between human and animal perspectives also gives a real sense of urgency and empathy; readers can feel the danger that an out-of-control fire can present to human and animal life. Rich, textured illustrations give intensity to scenes of sheltering creatures and smoke jumpers battling huge blazes, as well as a sense of calm and and relief when the danger has passed. Backmatter gives important information on the causes of forest fires, as well as firefighting tools and vocabulary. The length is great for a quick storytime, and JJ loved the animal sections especially. This is a gripping tale that fans of firefighting and forestry will love; Baby Bookworm approved!

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