Kobe Eats Pizza! (Ashley Wian)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Kobe Eats Pizza!, written by Ashley Wian with Cate Berry and illustrated by Joy Ang, a sweet story that shows one is never too young to develop their culinary skills.

Based on the popular social media star of Kobe Eats, the reader meets young Chef Kobe, a toddler who has taken early command of the family kitchen. He has a staff consisting of two dogs and a parent helper, and he cooks all by himself… mostly. With assistance from mom, Kobe prepares some dough, spreads some sauce, and assembles a pizza, with lots of fun along the way. The result is delicious, but one final touch is needed – after all, good food is best when it’s shared with family.

Simple yet charming. Having a little chef of our own, we know the fun that can be had when kids are allowed to help in the kitchen, and Kobe’s story is a sweet, if not particularly innovative, celebration of culinarily-inclined kiddos. Wian’s simple text is great for reading aloud or early readers, and Ang’s wonderfully warm illustrations bring loads of personality to Kobe, his family, and his pet dogs (plus, she makes the food look scrumptious). Especially nice to see is body modification representation; both of Kobe’s parents are heavily tattooed, something that adults are rarely depicted as being in picture books (unless they’re bad guys), and it will surely make inked caregivers feel seen. Otherwise, the length is great for a storytime, and Chef JJ really enjoyed it. A thoroughly enjoyable culinary tale, 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.)

Will it Be Okay? (Crescent Dragonwagon)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Will it Be Okay?, written by Crescent Dragonwagon and illustrated by Jessica Love, a beautiful ode to optimism, perseverance, and the reassurance of love.

Originally published in 1977 (when it was illustrated by Ben Shecter), the dialogical text follows a conversation between a child and parent. As the child thinks up worrisome scenarios from the mild (“what if there is snow?”) to the serious (“what if you die?”), the parent calmly talks them through what would happen next. To face the snow, for instance, the child would dress for the weather. To face her parent’s death, they would remember that a person’s love doesn’t die with them. With each response, the parent encourages the child to be resilient and positive when facing challenges, assuring them that even in times of darkness, it will be okay.

Heartwarming. Dragonwagon’s dialogue reads with the language and cadence of a poem, and is timeless in its affection and comfort for worried minds. Paired with Love’s gorgeous illustrations, which use fantastic character design, sharp lines, and a muted color palette to bring energy and emotion to each scene, the effect is a story that is as much about the love between caregivers and children as it is about finding courage in adversity. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ really enjoyed pondering each of the child’s questions for herself – yes, even the death one. She’s recently been curious about loss and it was helpful to read Dragonwagon’s words on how we keep the love of the ones that we lose. Overall, a timeless story with a wonderfully fresh look, and we highly recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Noni the Pony Counts to a Million (Alison Lester)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Noni the Pony Counts to a Million by Alison Lester, a simple and sweet counting book from the Noni the Pony series.

Starting from a simple count of the numbers one to ten, then expanding to concepts of dozens, hundreds, thousands, and millions, the reader follows Noni the pony and her animal pals as they spend a day taking in the nature around them. Racing cows, meeting wallabies, and playing hide-and-seek with puppies are all wonderful ways to practice counting skills, and as the sun begins to set, they can watch thousands of car headlights and admire millions of stars.

Understated, gentle, and charming. The adorably rounded Noni and her pals are sure to appeal to any young bookworm, being affectionate, cheerful, and full of curiosity. Lester’s rhyming text has an uncomplicated cadence that is easy and fun to read aloud, and the easy transition between core counting skills and more complicated concepts of multiples is one that engages without overwhelming. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved Noni and her friends, and especially counting each of the multiples of animals in the illustrations. Overall, a great basic to get kids curious and excited about counting, and we absolutely 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 Book is My Best Friend (Robin Robinson)

Hello, friends! Our book today is This Book is My Best Friend by Robin Robinson, a moving tale of friendship and the power of books and reading.

Two children – unnamed in the story but identified as Sunny and Aarush on the front flap – meet unexpectedly as they reach for the same picture book in the library. Each gently explains to the other that they NEED the sole copy of the book, Factory Friends, because the book is their best friend. Sunny loves it because it stars a robot and it helps make the long hours at hospital for Mom’s health problems less scary. Aarush loves it because it stars a mouse and brings moments of peace and quiet to an otherwise hectic home life. Both kids do their best to help the other find a suitable replacement, but there is just nothing to compare to the friendship that their chosen book provides. After all, it’s so hard to make friends, and when you find one that really gets you and your feelings, you want to hold on tight. But maybe books are like people, and they can have more than one best friend?

Wonderful. Robinson’s quietly amusing, touching, and insightful tale brings together all the best things about books and friendship: what each give to us, how they can enrich our lives, how they can help us cope with tough times, and how they can bring people together. The dialogical text speaks as guilelessly as two children would, and reads easily with different typefaces between the characters. The artwork is warm and sweet, and I loved the diversity between Sunny and Aarush, especially in their body types; while many picture books are paying more attention to inclusive representation in their character models, body type still sees limited diversity, especially in child characters. Otherwise, the length is great, JJ loved this one, and we absolutely recommend it to every book lover. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Jessie: Queen of the Road (Lindsay Ward)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Jessie: Queen of the Road by Lindsay Ward, a loving yet misguided tribute to female motorcyclists of the early 20th century.

Zipping through the busy streets of New York brings Jessie joy, but it’s tough being the only female motorcycle on the streets, especially when the boy motorcycles are bullies. So Jessie sets off on a cross-country trip, making headlines as she climbs mountains and travels the coastlines. She tries to volunteer to run messages in WWI, but is rejected for being a girl; instead, she becomes a stunt rider in carnivals and fairs. After recovering from a terrible accident, however, she finds that war is once again threatening – will she be allowed to serve this time?

Heartfelt but deeply misdirected. Inspired by an assortment of lady cyclists from the first half of the twentieth century in the US, Ward amalgamates their achievements into the sentient Jessie, who drives riderless. While this concept worked well in Ward’s previous title Rosie, which followed a anthropomorphized tractor through WWII, it simply does not in Jessie. While Rosie was clearly established a tool created and used by remarkable women laborers, the emphasis on Jessie as a completely autonomous creature visually and historically erases the accomplishments of the actual female motorcyclists, who operated machines like her to make the achievements that Jessie is being celebrated for. And while Ward briefly covers these women (including her mother) in an author’s note, it doesn’t stop the story from feeling divorced from the real-life human women who made history. The length is fine for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed Jessie’s determination and her inspiring motto, but I can’t help but be disappointed that this one took a wrong turn in concept. Worth a look, but I would instead recommend the powerful Rosie: Stronger Than Steel for a historical girl-power tale.

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