Prairie Days (Patricia MacLachlan)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Prairie Days, written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Micha Archer, a sweet summery ode to simple farm life.

A girl reminisces of the place “where I was born”, seeing herself as a elementary aged-child on a pastoral farm on the prairie. She vividly describes moments and scenes of this quiet country home: the scent of cattle and wildflowers as she lies down in a field to ponder the clouds; swimming in underclothes in a cool pond; riding horses and playing with farm dogs; cold bottles of soda from a metal tank; reading under homemade quilts as summer night air breezes through the curtains. It’s a life of simplicity and a fair bit of nostalgia, quiet and cozy and carefree.

Lovely. Told from the point of view of the single protagonist, this remembrance of endless skies and playful summers has a wonderfully soothing quality in both prose and visuals (the timeline is undefined, though machines and a shop’s wares indicate early mid-century). The text is has the rhythm and structure of cowboy poetry, as well as the simple yet ardent language of the same. The mixed-media art is standout, creating sumptuous two-page spreads filled with details, colors, and emotion. It’s a fairly insular look at one person’s childhood memories, yet made grand and sweeping by the illustrations and words. The length was great, and JJ was fascinated with the art. A soothing, sunny 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.)

Super Summer: All Kinds of Summer Facts And Fun (Bruce Goldstone)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Super Summer: All Kinds of Summer Facts And Fun by Bruce Goldstone, a spirited look at all the things that fill our summer months.

Fourth in Goldstone’s seasonal nonfiction series, young readers are given a colorful primer in many subjects that relate to the summer months (focusing on the northern hemisphere, primarily the United States). The topics are wide-ranging – from weather and sun protection, to various animals’ cooling systems, to sunflowers’ heliotropic adaptation, to a list of fun places one might go on summer vacation. Each page is filled to bright, colorful photographs to illustrate the topics, and a list of summery crafts and recipes, along with instructions, is included in the backmatter.

Awesome! This was a really cool compendium of summer facts, perfect for curious bookworms who enjoy learning about their world. The subjects and the manner in which they are covered strike a good balance between challenging yet easy to follow; concepts such a plant’s life cycle varying depending on its environment, or summer clothing being lighter in color to reflect light and heat, are explained in a way that educates without patronizing young readers. The eye-popping colors are pitch perfect, making spreads featuring summer fruits and veggies, flowers, and fireworks a delight, and feature a diverse range of human subjects enjoying summer activities. The length was fine for slightly older bookworms like JJ, and certain subjects can be skimmed for younger ones, who will love the bright photography. If your little one is a fan of nonfiction books, this is one to check out! Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Summer (Cao Wenxuan)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Summer, written by Cao Wenxuan and illustrated by Yu Rong, a modern-day fable of kindness and cooperation.

The book begins with a brief prelude, a page that sets a rural summer scene, complete with people and animals sheltering from the bright sun. Then the story jumps to a hot, dry grassland, where several animals big and small race across the dusty landscape toward shade. Spotting a tree, the animals rush toward it, arguing over who arrived first when they get there (the tiny mouse, technically first to arrive, is ignored by the much larger beasts). At last, the elephant muscles his way under the tree, taking up all the space. But looking up, the animals – even Elephant – all begin to laugh: the tree only has a few leaves left, and the sight of elephant crouching under the tiny spot of shade is absurd. Noting a man and his son crossing the landscape, the father using his shadow to keep his boy cool, the animals take a moment to consider – perhaps being selfish is not the way to manage their troubles.

Delightful! This translation of award-winning Chinese kidlit author Cao’s work weaves a thoughtful and measured lesson in teamwork and consideration, striking a tone that is subtle yet packs just the right emotional punch. The pacing may feel a bit unfamiliar, especially at the beginning, but it’s a refreshing sort of difference. And the interactive pages at the climax of the story were a wonderful surprise that fit the tone and look of the story perfectly. Yu’s sweet animals and use of light/shadow are brilliant – restrained, engaging, and heartwarming at the end. The length is great, and JJ 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.)

Sea Rex (Molly Idle)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Sea Rex by Molly Idle, the third in her positively charming Rex series.

Rex and his two young friends – Cordelia and her younger brother – head down to the beach for a day of fun and sun. But just like their previous outings, there are certain rules of etiquette and safety to be followed, which the text enlightens the reader to: staying in sight of a lifeguard, using plenty of sunscreen, and being sure to hunt for seaside treasures. During their day, the trio meet new dinosaurs during their adventures, which leads one more rule of beachgoing – the best day at the beach is one spent with friends.

So adorable. Idle’s delightfully cheeky style of combining instructional text with the tongue-in-cheek, beautifully laid-out, and incredibly endearing illustrations makes for a fun read no matter the age. Dino-lovers like JJ will be particularly pleased with the friendly-looking dinosaurs and the children’s interactions with them. The length is perfect, and JJ was grinning for every page. A fantastic summertime read, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Dude! (Aaron Reynolds & Dan Santat)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dude!, written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Dan Santat, a delightful look at the many emotions that the titular word can express.

Using only one word of dialogue, the story follows two friends – a beaver and a platypus – as they meet up at the beach for a day of surfing. They make for the waves, and are enjoying the day (with a few small hiccups) when a shark arrives and sends them scrambling… that is, until they realize that the shark was only trying to be friendly. The duo make amends with ice cream and a spare surfboard, and the three friends continue their fun – just look out for those rocks!

Tons of fun! From their greetings, to acknowledgement of some treacherous rocks, to expressions of excitement, apprehension, encouragement, and affection, the word “dude” is emphasized in different ways through context clues in the illustrations and the design of the text. It makes reading the story fairly easy for little bookworms, and provides excellent practice in connecting tone and story through the art, which is filled with Santat’s wonderful sense of action and silliness. The details are hilariously goofy (the shark having the empty leg flopping off one side of his swim trunks, for example), and the exuberant nature of the story makes for an entertaining read-aloud. JJ adored the art, and was joining in with her own “Duuuuude!” by the end. A funny, zany, and charming summertime 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.)