Little Seed (Benson Shum)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Little Seed by Benson Shum, a sweet board book about sharing snuggles.

Every morning, Little Seed wakes to a great big hug from Mama Earth. While Little Seed loves hugs and wants to hug the whole world, they lament that their arms are too small for such a task. Mama Earth reassures them that while Little Seed’s arms are small, their heart is big. Seeing friends in need of comfort, Little Seed heads out to give hugs, always being respectful of what kind of hugs his friends enjoy. At last, they settle in with Mama Earth again, and she asks how Little Seed will hug tomorrow. “With all my heart”, they reply.

Adorable and considerate. Little Seed’s hugging partners – mostly baby animals just as adorable as they are – present precious riddles, like how one should hug a panda, for instance. Each solution is fun and endearingly illustrated, and the characters of Little Seed and the dark-skinned, flora-winged Mama Earth are particularly lovely. I especially loved that Little Seed’s hugs varied to respect his friends’ preferences, such as slowly and gently hugging timid Lion Cub or forgoing a hug entirely and respecting Armadillo’s space. This sets a great example for young bookworms on bodily autonomy, both in open expression of one’s comfort with touch and being respectful of others’ touch preferences. The length is perfect for a quick storytime, and JJ really enjoyed this one. A great little board book with a lot of a heart and some great lessons, 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.)

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul (Carole Boston Weatherford)

Hello, friends! Our book today is R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Frank Morrison, a gorgeous tribute to the iconic singer, songwriter, and activist.

This brief introduction to the life of the queen of soul begins with a young Aretha saying prayers at her bedside: “B-L-E-S-S-E-D” reads the header, the rhyming couplet that follows describing how she was raised in a home of faith and black pride. Each spread continues in a similar vein, using a one-word theme to describe the moment or period in Aretha’s life as she grows, develops her voice, stands up for equality, and becomes a L-E-G-E-N-D in her own time.

Beautiful. Aretha is certainly a luminary deserving of the picture book treatment, and while this is not a particularly comprehensive biography, it is a great way to introduce the Queen of Soul to young readers. Yet what it lacks in informational breadth, it more than makes up for in style; from a design standpoint, this title is a knockout. Morrison’s rich, vibrant illustrations are positively striking, each one a work of art in composition, light/shadow, and dynamics. The choices to spell out each spread’s header and end each line with an /ē/ sound (just like in the bridge of Franklin’s mega-hit “Respect), and even to make the book itself 12×12 inches (the standard size of an LP) are wonderful details that celebrate Aretha’s connection to and love of music. There is one spread that’s quite odd: one in which the break-up of Aretha’s parents is attributed to her father’s infidelity, accompanied by an illustration of Clarence Franklin smiling proudly over his children. The overall effect is rather strange and explaining the concept of being “faithful” might be an awkward conversation for young readers and their caregivers. But overall, this is a visually stunning ode to music royalty, and we both loved it. Baby Bookworm A-P-P-R-O-V-E-D!

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

Eraser (Anna Kang)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Eraser, written by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant, a look at how teamwork requires respect and cooperation.

Eraser is just as hardworking and dedicated as the other school supplies, but she can’t help but feel overlooked. After all, nearly all the other supplies create something, but her work leaves no trace behind. What’s worse, while she does all the proofreading and erases all the mistakes Pencil makes, Pencil always takes credit for her work, causing a Pencil to be lauded while Eraser is largely ignored. After her attempt to contribute creatively to a project is mocked by Pencil and the others, Eraser has had enough, and decides to move on. She takes a flying leap off the desk, landing in the wastebin, where she finds an unexpected group of supporters. Meanwhile, without Eraser to help correct mistakes, Pencil and the others find that perfection doesn’t come nearly as easy as it once did.

Clever! The dialogue-exclusive story uses a clever metaphor about the importance of diverse talents – mixed in with a healthy heaping of office supply-related puns, to explore why it’s important to respect every member of a team or group, no matter how unimportant their role may appear. After all, it’s often the people behind-the-scenes that do the most work of all. The illustrations are very cute, creating simple character designs out of easily-recognizable school supplies, which will spark little ones’ imaginations about the familiar objects. The length is good, and JJ enjoyed it, so this one’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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