Now (Antoinette Portis)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Now by Antoinette Portis, a lovely meditation on the simple pleasures of living in the moment.

An exhilarating breeze blows through a little girl’s hair; this is her favorite breeze. She holds a crimson autumn leaf the same span as her face; this is her favorite leaf. With each new object, sensation, or activity, the little girl proclaims each as her favorite – the tree because she is swinging from it, the mud because she is squishing it between her toes, the moon she is gazing up at. Each moment she is currently in is her favorite, because each is what she is experiencing right now… and because of who she is experiencing it with.

This is a simple story with a quiet and somewhat unassuming presence, but it will surprise you: it’s filled with quiet, guileless elegance and a phenomenally satisfying emotional payoff. While the tone definitely suggests themes of zen or mindfulness, the truth is that it does a great job of embodying the way little ones see the world – that each moment is their most important yet – and how we as adults impact this. It’s an enlightening perspective for both age groups to consider. Portis’s art echoes this, capturing both the trivial and the sublime, and examining the magical details that children notice and adults all too often overlook. The length is great, JJ adored the art, and the last page is a stunner for anyone who loves to read with their child. Thoughtful, warm, and full of wonder, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Love (Matt de la Peña)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the stunning and profound Love, written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Loren Long, a moving meditation on love in all its forms.

The first voices we hear, and the first faces we see, wide-eyed and smiling down at us in wonder: these are love. So, too, is the sunset sky over a happy home, no matter how modest. It’s in music, in words, in gestures of kindness. Love guides us when we are lost, comforts us when we are scared, supports us as we grow. And when the world is cold or cruel or darkened by hate, don’t despair – love will still be there to chase away the darkness once again. Even the face that stares back at you from the mirror – that’s love too. And when you go out into the world, love will be there to send you on your way, as you spread love wherever you go, with every step you take.

It’s really, really hard to describe what makes this book so special. It sounds like a pretty simple concept, and could have made for a very generic book in less-skilled hands. But this is a wonder, and I have teared up at least ten times just thinking of it. The text is simple to read yet filled with quiet depth. The illustrations are earnest and grounded in reality yet carry an overall sense of hope: a spread depicting a nightmare shows a bright light leading the dreamer away from fear, a boy hiding under a piano during an argument between his parents is comforted by his dog. It’s… real, but a reality that encourages hope and understanding and inclusion and connection in terrifying times, with the belief that these things MATTER, and will lead us into the light as well. It’s breathtaking. Please read it. We loved it. You will too. Baby Bookworm approved.

The Perfect Thanksgiving (Eileen Spinelli)

Fall Festivities Week, Day 4: Happy Thanksgiving, friends! In the spirit of Turkey Day, our book for the day was The Perfect Thanksgiving, written by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi, a very sweet book about the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

Abigail Archer’s family has perfect Thanksgivings. Their turkey is golden brown, their napkins are lace, and everyone in attendance is pretty and polite. The narrator’s family Thanksgiving is… not perfect. The turkey is burnt, the dessert falls on the floor, and the people are loud and wild! But at the end of the day, both Thanksgiving are full of love and togetherness, and that makes them both Perfect Thanksgivings.

This was a fantastic Thanksgiving picture book! I loved that the message was that perfect food and settings don’t make a Thanksgiving special, being with family (no matter how boisterous or messy) is. The illustrations are colorful, lively and full of small and funny details that will make this an entertaining Thanksgiving read as baby bookworms grow. The length is great, and JJ loved it, so this one is Baby Bookworm approved!

The Uncorker Of Ocean Bottles (Michelle Cuevas)

Hello, friends! Today, we read The Uncorker Of Ocean Bottles, written by Michelle Cuevas and illustrated by Erin E. Stead, a lovely tale about the power of messages to bring people together.

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles lives in a small house by the sea, picking up the messages in bottles that the ocean brings him and delivering them to their rightful recipients. He sees the letters bring hope, sadness, tears and love, and he hopes someday to receive a message addressed to him. Unfortunately, he has no friends and no name, so he doesn’t imagine one will ever come. One day, he finds a message with no recipient, an invitation to a party on the beach. He searches for the letter’s origin with no luck, and so decides to go to the party to apologize to the sender for failing his mission, but what he finds on the beach fills his heart with joy.

This was a beautiful book, from the muted, gentle colors of the illustrations to the sweeping and simple yet enchanting text. The length might be pushing it for some baby bookworm, but JJ liked it, so no complaints. And the lesson of the importance of letters and togetherness warms the heart. We liked this one a lot. Baby Bookworm approved!