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.)

Dear Little One (Nina Laden & Melissa Castrillon)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dear Little One by Nina Laden and Melissa Castrillon, a gorgeous ode to the beauty of the natural world.

Taking the form of a letter, the narration opens with the titular salutation, greeting both the reader and the unnamed child protagonist, who is poking a finger into a rippling body of water. The lyrical text follows as the child explores a series of natural environments with their canine companion, encouraging them to appreciate and marvel at the beauty of nature and the myriad life that fills it – animals, insects, plants, seas, mountains, and more. The author of the letter charges their “little one” to be a steward of the Earth, to preserve it, and to care for it as the Earth cares for them, before signing off – “Love, Mother Nature.”

Gorgeous. Those who are fans of Laden and Castrillon’s previous collaborations, If I Had A Little Dream and Yellow Kayak, will be delighted to find another beautifully written and breathtaking illustrated adventure in this title. The conservationist message isn’t necessarily subtle, but the text conveys it in an imploringly heartfelt tone that never feels preachy, but rather empowering and inspiring. The spellbinding, dreamlike illustrations are simply stunning, blending a palate of cool greens and purples with fiery oranges and reds that is all at once soothing and invigorating. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved the intricate art and calming tone of the text. A beautiful way to encourage children to explore and revere the natural world, 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.)

Is Was (Deborah Freedman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Is Was by Deborah Freedman, a gorgeous meditation on impermanence and the quiet, overwhelming beauty of nature.

The sky that was blue and the sky that now falls with rain are one and the same. Just as that rain created puddles for little animals to sip; just as the soft whispering song of the wind has now become the buzz of a bumblebee in flight. Just as, in the silence of nature, we can hear the earth’s heart beat, in time with a child swinging back and forth on their swing. Just as the day fades to night, skies become orange, then purple-pink, then the deepest blue and filled with stars – the same stars we all see and share.

Absolutely beautiful. Freedman has a wonderful talent for creating sweeping, compelling narratives that center around finding beauty in the world around us (her books This House, Once and Shy are still favorites of ours), and this peaceful, enchanting title is another wonderful example of it. Weaving together simple, rich artwork that practically bursts with sunshine, with sparse yet effective text (which itself combines soft prose and an utterly flawless use of onomatopoeia), the story explores the themes of nature’s quiet beauty, and how the cycles of nature are essential to that beauty, perfectly. On its own, this is a lovely subject for any little bookworm; and yet, with the author’s dedication (“for you/and everyone you’ve loved/who is/or was”) as context, it can also be a beautiful way to explore grief, loss, and renewal in our personal lives as well. The length is perfect for a storytime or bedtime book, and JJ and I both loved it. Stunning, timeless, 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.)

Bob Ross: My First Book of Colors (Robb Pearlman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Bob Ross: My First Book of Colors, written by Robb Pearlman and illustrated by Bob Ross, a look at the thirteen signature paint colors of the beloved artist.

“This is your world,” the text begins over a lakeside mountain vista, immediately capturing the soothing timbre and tone of iconic artist Bob Ross. The narrator describes each color – accompanied by a Bob Ross original that showcases it – as though leading the reader through a painting lesson. Titanium White, Alizarin Crimson, Phthalo Blue – each of the thirteen paint colors that Ross favored is brought to life through his work, described with familiar phrases such as “happy little” tree trunks and “it’s just that easy”. After all, this is your world, and you can make it anything you want.

Peaceful and sweet. A love letter to Ross and the fans who grew up with him, a majority of the references may fly over the heads of younger readers. However, for those parents and caregivers who remember Ross so fondly, it’s easy to see how the narration and tone of the book capture his voice and style: soothing, inspiring, and comforting. So while younger readers may not get the same hit of nostalgia, they can still enjoy the lovely colors and serene nature scenes. JJ’s never seen a Bob Ross episode in her life, but she very much enjoyed the artwork and the quietude of the text. The length is perfect for a short storytime, especially for young nature and art lovers. A sweet title that serves as a fine tribute to Ross and his work. Baby Bookworm approved!

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