The Garden Creatures of Fairfax Lane: The Dipping Dragonfly (Lanna Breetzke, Heather Larson, & Melissa Beachcroft-Shaw)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Garden Creatures of Fairfax Lane: The Dipping Dragonfly by Lanna Breetzke, Heather Larson, and Melissa Beachcroft-Shaw, a gentle fable about slowing down.

In Mrs. Crankshaw’s garden at the end of Fairfax Lane lives a small community of tiny critters; among them is Dipping Dragonfly, a fun-loving and mischievous insect who is always throwing himself into play. However, this often leads to him becoming scattered, inconveniencing himself and others. Frowning Frog offers some advice on stopping and taking a few breaths from time to time, but it goes unheeded. Will Dragonfly learn how to find fun in balance?

A heartfelt effort with lackluster execution. While the story is meant to show young readers the value of finding clarity through focus, the narrative ironically becomes confusing with clunky rhymes, an inconsistent meter, and a puzzling plot hole during the midpoint (the story follows Frog to visit the wise caterpillar Enta Magenta, only to swap in Dragonfly as the visitor with zero explanation). Beachcraft-Shaw’s lush illustrations are a highlight, particularly her uses of light, shadow, and the calming garden-inspired color palette, but they don’t save the confounding storyline or awkward read-aloud experience. Otherwise, the length is fine, but JJ was similarly underwhelmed. Perhaps take a look at this one for the art, but otherwise, take a pass.

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

Time to Fly (George Ella Lyon)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Time to Fly, written by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman, a classic story of learning to spread one’s wings.

Upon realizing that its siblings have left the nest, a young robin wonders where they’ve gone. “They took off, said my mother. You’ve outgrown this woven home.” And though Mother Robin does everything she can to convince her fledgling that the time has come to spreads its own wings, the young bird remains unconvinced of the importance of mastering flight; “Nest is best,” it insists. How will Mother Robin prove to her little one that, while the next step may be scary, it can be wonderfully empowering as well?

Sweet. Baby bird leaving the nest as a metaphor for growing up isn’t a particularly groundbreaking framework for a story, but Lyon’s cheerful, rhythmic text and Coleman’s charming illustrations combine to create an enjoyable interpretation of the trope, especially for young readers who may be leaving the safety of their own nests very soon to start school. Still, some of the story’s elements become confusing within the context of this metaphor, such as the idea that the young robin’s nest will not be a place of safety forever due to hawks (in contrast to a child’s own home typically portrayed as a constant of security). Otherwise, the length is fine for a storytime, JJ liked the interplay between the mother and baby bird, and this was overall an enjoyable read. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

A Little Ferry Tale (Chad Otis)

Hello, friends! Our book today is A Little Ferry Tale by Chad Otis, a sweet nautical fable about the value of diverse talents.

Little Ferry, a hardworking seacraft in “a place with more water than land” has humble strengths: she is patient, quiet, careful, and punctual. While that makes her very good at her job, she can’t help but envy the other boats, whom her passengers always cheer and whoop for. They love fearless Tugboat, thundery Speedboat, and graceful Sailboat, but no one pays much mind to quiet and dependable Ferry. She tries to emulate her water-bound companions, but Ferry’s not really made to be anything other than she is – but how can she make a splash if she was built to be slow and steady?

A very cute affirmation of the value in unique talents. As readers might guess, while her companions may have flashier attributes, Ferry’s patience and dependability, as well as her courage, end up saving the day. It’s a classic if well-worn plot, but Otis’s well-paced story and charming nautical illustrations give it a fresh twist. I particularly loved the visual of a red-hatted child playing with model ships, which readers might miss on the first read-through yet pays off beautifully on the final page. The length is fine for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed this one a lot. Overall, a lovely little tale of self-acceptance, 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.)

Let’s Go Outside! (Ben Lerwill & Marina Ruiz)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Let’s Go Outside! by Ben Lerwill and Marina Ruiz, a lovely ode to the great outdoors and the time spent in it.

Let’s go outside. There’s a great big wide world of nature out there to see and experience, and we can start in our own backyards and neighborhoods. From there, we can travel to beaches and forests, windy cliffs and sunny fields. We can look at and listen for and learn about wild creatures big and small, or build forts, or splash in puddles. And when we return home, we can cozy up with the memories of our day spent outside, and look forward to the next.

Delightful. With charming artwork and simple persuasive sentences. Lerwill and Ruiz create a title that encourages young readers to explore all that the outdoors has to offer. By appealing to nature lovers, adventurers, and the scientifically curious – and any combination thereof – little ones are reminded off all the incredible things that can found and experienced outside. The artwork is particularly gorgeous, both enticing with its nature scenes and representative of a variety of skintones and hair types; several characters wear glasses, one uses a wheelchair. An engaging afterward prompts readers to think about and experience the outdoors in new ways. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ liked this one a lot. Overall, a great way to encourage little ones to get out and play, 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.)

Dig Here (David Miles)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dig Here, written by David Miles and illustrated by Olga Zakharova, a delightfully ridiculous treasure hunt tale.

A tenacious seafarer (self-described as the “fiercest pirate in the world”) and his trusty four-legged first mate embark on a quest to retrieve a treasure of rubies and gold that the pirate has hidden away underground (“that is what fierce pirates do”). However, their endeavor quickly becomes complicated when the booty is not… exactly in the same spot that the pirate is 100% positive he left it in. Still, the pirate is not deterred, and will brave underground tunnels, aching muscles, and sleepiness to find his missing treasure… or will he?

Silly swashbuckling fun. Combining a colorful central character with equally vibrant artwork and charmingly absurd dialogue, this one is a treat for young readers. With the text addressing the audience and a clever use of cutouts to tease the climax of the plot, the book becomes interactive in ways that encourage kids to laugh along at the pirate’s antics while also creating opportunities to guess where the story may be headed next (Note: the cutouts are made of paper and not cardboard, so the book’s construction may not hold up to very small bookworms). The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ was rolling at the pirate’s missteps and nautical colloquialisms. Overall, a fun ride for any age, and we 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.)