Lali’s Feather (Farhana Zia)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Lali’s Feather, written by Farhana Zia and illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman, a delightful story of ingenuity and friendship.

Lali is playing in the field one day when she finds a feather. Wishing to return it to its owner, she asks Rooster, Crow, and Peacock if they are missing it. They all say no, pointing out the feather’s plainness (as opposed to Peacock’s fancy feathers) and pokeyness (as opposed to Crow’s perky feathers), and so on. So Lali decides to keep her feather to play with. Her friends Hen, Duck, Jay laugh at the little feather, but as Lali finds more and more ways to creatively play with the feather, all six of the birds become more excited and invested. Then, when a gust of wind blows the feather out of Lali’s grasp, she is left broken-hearted. Fortunately, her feathered friends are there, and eager to bring her feather back.

Wonderfully unique. Various themes are explored in this one (different species of birds, imaginative play, not judging by appearances, etc.), all weaving together to create a story that is rich with substance yet light and fun to read. Particularly enjoyable is Lali’s creative mind, which can find a hundred uses for a plain, small, pokey feather, such as tickling, sweeping, writing, and more. It shows little readers that any ordinary object can be a toy, and the very best games are often the ones we create ourselves. The illustrations are gorgeous, creating a lush country home setting and memorable characters. Lali’s Indian culture is flawlessly woven throughout, from her bindi and clothing to the Indian slang used in the dialogue (translations are not provided, yet easy to guess from context). The length is perfect, and JJ adored the colors and characters. A marvelously enjoyable tale, 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.)

How To (Julie Morstad)

Hello, friends! Our book today is How To by Julie Morstad, a charmingly understated celebration of the simple pleasures of childhood.

Childhood doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but that’s okay – half the fun is discovering the “how to’s” along the way. For instance, how to see the wind? Paper kites and balloons. How to wash your face? Enjoy the warm summer rain without an umbrella. How to go fast? A variety of options: a scooter, dress-up wings, stilts and, of course, simply running free. And so each illustration provides the reader with helpful suggestions on how to feel the breeze, how to stay close, how to be invisible. After all, that’s the fun and wonder of childhood: finding out for yourself how to be happy.

LOVED this. With succinct text, Morstad’s delicate pencil illustrations that utilize detail and negative space masterfully, and a lovely sense of whimsy and wonder, this book perfectly captures the quietly carefree moments of childhood. Each illustration and spread was just gorgeous, employing a multi-ethnic cast of children engaging in play in such a genuine way that young readers will be able to easily identify, and adults will feel nostalgic for their own days of play. There’s a quiet elegance to the entire book, and it was lovely to read. The length is perfect for little ones of any age, and JJ and I both enjoyed it. A delightful look at the joys of being small, 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.)

This Is My Dollhouse (Giselle Potter)

Hello, everybody! Today’s book is This Is My Dollhouse by Giselle Potter, a sweet tale of imaginative play.

As the story opens, the little girl who serves as narrator introduces the reader to her dollhouse. She made it herself from a cardboard box, painted on bricks, and colored the walls to look like wallpaper. And she loves her dollhouse the way it is, with a mix-match family of dolls to live in it and a hodgepodge of furnishings and features that she cleverly creates by hand. The girl’s friend Sophie has a REAL dollhouse from a store, and everything inside is perfect, but not very unique. Sophie only likes to play with her dollhouse in a very certain way. The narrator worries that if Sophie comes to her house, she will not like the hand-made dollhouse and its quirky charms. But perhaps thinking of things a little differently will inspire Sophie to play more creatively as well.

This was a nice story about free play and using one’s imagination. I liked that the narrator was so ingenious with her creations, using found objects and her own inspiration to make things and tell stories that were original and clever. The conflict between the two girls felt like a familiar stumbling block for anyone who has watched two strong-willed children play, though I didn’t like the implication that store-bought toys are somehow less-conducive to creative thought (imagination is key for free play, not the provenance of the playthings). The illustrations were very pretty, especially those centered around the narrator’s dollhouse, but didn’t seem to hold JJ’s attention well. Indeed, the story was a bit slow-paced for her too, but older children would definitely benefit from the book’s message. Overall, it’s a very nice book that encourages imagination, so it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Hooray For Today! (Brian Won)

Hello, friends! Today, we read Hooray For Today! by Brian Won, an adorably funny story about a fun-loving and well-meaning owl who just can’t seem to find a playmate.

Owl wakes up at the crack of dusk in a great mood! He’s gathered all this toys and books and playthings, and he can’t wait to go play with his friends! “Hooray for today!” he greets them with, inviting them to play with him. But everyone he asks is too tired to play at night. Feeling discouraged, Owl heads for home, but when he arrives, a surprise is in store!

What a cute book! It’s mostly just a fun story, but it’s a great way to introduce kids to nocturnal vs. diurnal animals. Owl’s positivity is infectious, and his care towards his friends is charmingly sweet. Loved the boldly colored yet simple illustrations and the large typeset, especially the big, bright letters (JJ is learning letters, so it was great for pointing out specific ones). The length is perfect, and JJ and I had a ball reading it. A fun, positive book about friendship and play, and we loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!

What To Do With A Box (Jane Yolen & Chris Sheban)

Summer Reading Day 65: Our book today was What To Do With A Box by Jane Yolen & Chris Sheban, and it was awesome. As you could probably guess, it’s all about a perennial favorite of children’s playthings, the cardboard box. Specifically, it’s all the things a box can be to someone with a little imagination and creativity: a racecar, a palace, a forest or a library.

The story is great, sweet and simple and with both a sense of wonder, for those who are beginning to play with boxes, and nostalgia for those who spent their childhoods making worlds inside six walls of cardboard. The length is perfect, and the art is lovely and whimsically authentic (many of the pages are “stamped” to look like actual cardboard boxes). We loved it, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.