Saturday (Oge Mora)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Saturday by Oge Mora, a heartwarming story of mother and daughter.

Saturdays are Ava’s favorite day; her mother works every other day of the week, so Saturdays are just for the two of them. They even have their weekly ritual all planned out: first, go to the library for storytime; then relax at the beauty shop as they get their hair done; then off to the park for a picnic. And today’s Saturday is even more special, because they’re capping it off with a special, one-night-only puppet show across town. However, when they get to the library, the find that storytime has been cancelled… and that’s only the beginning of their bad luck. Disappointment after disappointment mounts, culminating in a heartbreaking realization that they’ve left their puppet show tickets at home! This proves to be Ava’s mother’s breaking point, and she apologizes to her daughter for a day wasted. But little Ava knows the truth, and is there to remind her mother: a day is never wasted when it’s spent with the one you love.

Absolutely wonderful. Mora has a real talent for telling simple, uplifting stories that are grounded in reality. Watching Ava and her mom suffer their series of letdowns is painful, and the mother’s eventual feelings of guilt for “ruining” the day hit so close to home as a parent, especially because EVERY mother I know has had that kind of day at some point. And it’s Ava’s gentle, kind reassurance that both warms the heart and teaches several important lessons to young readers: sometimes things can’t go our way, sometimes parents even (gasp!) mess up, but it’s how we handle these bumps – and who we handle them with – that makes us who were are. It’s quietly powerful, deeply touching, and wonderfully inspiring. The mixed-media paper collage art is rich and beautiful, filling Ava’s city with life and color, and managing to imbue deep emotion and personality in spare figures. The length is perfect, and JJ and I both loved it. Absolutely Baby Bookworm approved!

Thank You, Omu! (Oge Mora)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora, a beautiful modern tale of generosity and community.

Omu is delighted; the thick red stew she has been making is absolutely scrumptious, and she predicts that it will make the best dinner she’s ever had. Setting the meal to simmer, she takes a reading break before dinnertime, as the tempting scent of the delicious stew wafts out the window and down the city streets. Suddenly, Omu hears a knock on her door – the little boy from down the hall is curious about the incredible smell. As she has made plenty, she offers him a bowl; he gives his earnest thanks in return. Soon a parade of neighbors is stopping by, drawn by the scent of stew, and Omu kindly offers a portion to each of them. As the last guest leaves, it’s time for dinner – but Omu has given away every last drop of stew. Broken-hearted, she hears one last knock on the door, and finds a wonderful surprise behind it.

Heartwarming. Omu (the Igbo word for “queen”, and inspired by the author’s grandmother) represents a classic figure of selflessness, and Mora’s incredible collage-style illustrations do a wonderful job of filling her warmth, personality, and life. The art shines again and again, in fact: busy city streets are alive with unique characters, emotions play across features, and Omu’s stew looks incredibly tasty. This beautifully frames a pitch-perfect story of generosity, both from the perspective of Omu and of her grateful neighbors who show their thanks in a truly thoughtful way. The writing itself makes it a joy to read aloud, with various callbacks and repetitions that flow perfectly throughout. The length was great, and JJ adored it. This is a special book, with a simple yet evergreen message and art style that can be enjoyed for generations to come – Baby Bookworm approved!

Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed The World (Susan Hood)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed The World, written by Susan Hood and illustrated by 13 female artists, a collection of poetry that celebrates fourteen trailblazing women.

Each poem introduces us to the life and work of a remarkable young woman: Molly Williams, the first known female firefighter in the US; Maya Lin, the architect who, at only 21 years old, designed the Vietnam War Memorial amid great controversy; Pura Belpré, the NY public librarian who broke the race barrier for children in libraries; and many more. Familiar heroes like Frida Kahlo, Malala Yousafzai, and Nellie Bly share the spotlight with lesser-known heroines like Angela Zhang, Annette Kellerman, and the Nearne sisters, and leave readers with an inspiring truth: courage and brilliance know no race, age, or gender.

FAN. TASTIC. The poems are brief, use clear language for little readers, but do a phenomenal job of encapsulating each woman’s obstacles, her accomplishments, and her spirit (the Ruby Bridges entry caused me to openly weep). The art is a treasure trove, with each artist bringing their own style to their individual subject, their passion for which explodes from the page. And while these collections often neglect feminist icons of color, this one does not, including role models of Asian, Middle-Eastern, Latina, and African-American descent. It might be a little long to cover in one sitting with smaller bookworms, but could easily be put down and continued another time. And needless to say, JJ and I loved it. This is a powerful book that would be welcome on any little one’s bookshelf. Baby Bookworm approved!