I Can’t Draw (Stephen W. Martin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Can’t Draw, written by Stephen W. Martin and illustrated by Brian Biggs, a clever story about artistic talent and creativity, as well as comparing ourselves to others.

Max absolutely loves to draw, but he doesn’t feel that he is particularly good at it. His crayon drawings, while wildly inventive, are crude and one-dimensional, unlike the stunning shading and perspective of his friend Eugene’s pencil drawings. Asking Eugene to help him improve his drawing skills, Max finds himself frustrated with the drawing books and still life sketching his friend suggests. Drawing side-by-side doesn’t help much either, as Max quickly grows frustrated that Eugene’s work looks so much more realistic than his. At last, the pair find that tracing enables Max to make masterpieces… yet Max can’t help but feel like they lack something. In the end, perhaps Max will learn that art isn’t just about technique, but about creativity and expression, and maybe a dinosaur and robot or two.

Wonderful. Martin and Biggs brilliantly capture the frustration that readers of all ages can feel when comparing their artistic endeavors to others and feeling inadequate as a consequence (the dig at instructional drawing books in particular was spot-on, and my inner child made me guffaw loudly). Martin’s easy conversational text is fun to read aloud, and Biggs’s illustrations capture the humor and themes of expression perfectly. In the end, I loved the message that we should not compare our talents to others, especially as I read this with JJ. Having coordination and motor skill issues, she was actually very impressed with Max’s drawings from the beginning (“He CAN draw!” – JJ), and was delighted when Max learned that drawings don’t have to be technically perfect to make people happy. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved it. Overall, a great pep talk for aspiring artists everywhere, 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.)

Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion (Stephen W. Martin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion, written by Stephen W. Martin and illustrated Dan Tavis, the silly story of one exceedingly cute kitty.

Fluffy McWhiskers is one cute cat… perhaps a bit TOO cute. You see, whenever someone lays eyes on her undeniable adorableness, they literally explode from cuteness overload. Fluffy tries to combat this by wearing an ugly sweater, giving herself a bad haircut, even wearing a bag on her head, but alas, all these preventative measures backfire – she’s even cuter than before. Making a few failed attempts to isolate herself, she finally finds peace on a deserted island; unfortunately, she finds that deserted islands are pretty lonely. That is, until the day she hears barking coming from the beach! Can she save her latest victim from cuteness explosion? Or perhaps… she won’t have to.

Hilariously weird. Flat out, this is a bizarre one with an oddly dark premise that somehow… works. Whether it’s Martin’s irreverent and deadpan text or Tavis’s hilarious artistic interpretation of the cuteness overloads – illustrated as smoky/inky clouds of rainbow dust – and visual gags, this very strange tale has a lightness of tone that overtakes any heavier implications of a cat so cute she causes literal death. The comedy works so well, from the dry jokes paired with outrageous artwork to scenes that come out of nowhere yet further the ludicrous plot in humorously expected ways (“The handwriting is so cute!” a fishing bear proclaims, reading a message in a bottle written by Fluffy, before bursting into the now-familiar visual of death-by-cuteness). The length is fine for storytime, but the tone may work better for slightly older elementary readers who will get the dry humor; that being said, JJ thought it was a riot. A wonderfully weird read, 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.)

Charlotte And The Rock (Stephen W. Martin)


Hello, friends! Today’s book is Charlotte And The Rock, written by Stephen W. Martin and illustrated by Samantha Cotterill, a sweet and unexpected story of a girl and her pet rock.

Charlotte longs for a pet of her own; any kind will do. A dog or a cat would be nice, or even a bird, she doesn’t care, as long as she can love and take care of it. Still, when her parents give her a pet ROCK for her sixth birthday, she can’t help but be a bit surprised. Still, the pet rock has its positives (it’s hypoallergenic, for instance), and Charlotte grows to love her new best friend, caring for and playing with her pet rock, Dennis, as she would any beloved pet. She only wishes that Dennis could love her back. And one night, when Dennis begins to shake and move, Charlotte might just get her wish in a most surprising way…

This one was simply delightful. The story was clever and sweet, and has several lovely messages for little readers, like being appreciative of what you are given, and being a caring and responsible pet owner and friend (even to a rock). The plot twist at the end is terrific as well. The illustrations are fantastic, using a minimal style reminiscent of older children’s books (the original Clifford The Big Red Dog comes to mind) to perfection. I especially liked that Charlotte was not an overly “beautified” little girl: round-cheeked, freckled and bespectacled, she has a unique look from many picture book protagonists that makes her a bit more relatable. The length was great, JJ loved it, and this one was just a joy to read. Baby Bookworm approved!