Just Bunny and the Great Fire Rescue (Jeanne LaSala Taylor)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Just Bunny and the Great Fire Rescue, written by Jeanne LaSala Taylor and illustrated by Ana Sebastian, a sweet tale of a girl and her very special bunny.

New Yorker Francesca’s best friend in the world is her stuffed gray rabbit named Just Bunny. After a day of play at the park with her mom and little sister (and Just Bunny, naturally), Francesca and her family stop at a restaurant for dinner. But shortly after their chips arrive, the waiter appears to usher everyone out of the restaurant – there’s a fire in the kitchen! Safely out on the street, the family moves to another restaurant, but Francesca quickly realizes that someone was left behind: Just Bunny! Rushing back to the scene of the fire, Francesca and her mother implore a kindly firefighter to look inside for the plushie, explaining that he’s not simply a toy, but Francesca’s best friend. The firefighter understands, and braves his way inside to search… but is it too late?

Very sweet. While the rhyming text often loses meter and can be a little clunky when read aloud, the slice-of-life plot if simple and relatable, especially for any family who is familiar with the importance of a little one’s special toy. Indeed, the moment in which the firefighter asks if Francesca needs Just Bunny to sleep absolutely rung true to me, and was a heartwarming and realistic moment of a one parent understanding another family’s needs based on personal experience. The way this also celebrated the work and compassion of firefighters was a wonderful and unexpected theme. The art is colorful and lively, and the length is fine. One complaint, however, is the inclusion of a tertiary character named DJ Big Apple, a bunny identical to Just Bunny with the exception of sunglasses and a watch who, after an introductory page, appears in the background of each two-page spread, up until one scene where he… IS Just Bunny? Even though they both appeared in previous scenes? It’s unclear and feels like an unnecessary addition to an otherwise well-rounded story. Still, JJ enjoyed the tale of Just Bunny, and we can recommend this one. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Loved To Bits (Teresa Heapy & Katie Cleminson)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Loved To Bits by Teresa Heapy and Katie Cleminson, a precious tale of the life of a beloved stuffed animal.

In pleasantly-flowing rhyme, the young narrator introduces his stuffed bear, Stripy Ted. Stripy Ted doesn’t leave the boy’s bed anymore; you see, once upon a time he was a plush stuffed bear with golden stripes, and he and the boy did absolutely everything together. Fighting dragons, traveling the seven seas, exploring ruins, and making daring escapes – nothing was too exciting or dangerous for this duo. As their adventures unfold, however, Stripy Ted begins show his wear: a popped eye button, a missing ear, and eventually each of his four limbs. Even his stripes turn from gold to a faded brown. He takes each of these injuries with chipper positively, but soon even the boy must admit that Ted is no longer suited for their wild adventures. However, when the boy’s mother asks if she should mend Ted, he is quick to decline: Ted doesn’t mind his injuries, and is now the perfect size for cuddling at bedtime, and keeping his boy company through the long night.

Absolutely adorable. Most little ones have their own version of Stripy Ted (JJ’s is a battered fellow named Cuddle Fox), and readers of all ages will immediately recognize the special bond between the main character and his lovey. It’s this, plus the classic look of the dreamy storybook illustrations, that give this book a timeless feel. The premise seems oddly grotesque, but the hilariously nonchalant attitude of Ted (“‘Tis but a scratch!” he declares after one injury, a delightful nod to the adult audience) prevent the tone from being anything but light, warm, and sentimental. And easy to see why – Ted is based on the author’s son’s own well-loved bear. The length is perfect, the story sublime, and JJ and I both 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.)