The Book of Rules (Brian Gehrlein)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Book of Rules, written by Brian Gehrlein and illustrated by Tom Knight, a hilarious interactive book that encourages little ones to get their sillies out.

Get ready readers, because this book is full of rules: rules for sitting, rules for making fish faces, rules for mooing like a cow. And you’d best follow these rules, or Dennis will make an appearance! Who is Dennis, you might ask? Oh, he’s the sharp-fanged, razor-clawed, weird-thing-on-his-foot-having monster tasked with finding those who don’t follow the rules… and eating them UP!

Delightful! Educators will be familiar with the concept of “shaking the sillies out” with groups of little ones; this book takes the concept and creates a narrative involving some very silly and/or soothing activities – such a silly faces, giving high fives, or taking deep breaths – and the “threat” of a giant purple monster named Dennis who nibbles on the noncompliant (the narrator and artwork makes it clear that Dennis, for all the threats of audience-consumption, is actually a friendly monster). A diverse cast of children in the illustrations demonstrate each activity, and colorful backgrounds and playful text complete the experience. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved interacting with the silly instructions, but the effect of this one would absolutely work best in groups. That said, this could be a novel way to help little ones shake their sillies out, and we loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Bone Soup (Alyssa Satin Capucilli)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Bone Soup, written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and illustrated by Tom Knight, a Halloween-flavored spin on a classic fable.

The three witch sisters search their cupboard for something to eat, finding only a bone. Taking it to the monster’s house next door, they offer soup in exchange for a bit of water to mix it up. The monster doubts their claims, but his daughter convinces him to contribute. After a taste test, Scraggy Witch declares it scrumptious – if only there was something savory to add. The next neighbor, a ghost, reluctantly offers a giant’s eye. Soon, more creepy creatures are adding ingredients – but as their hunger grows, their patience thins. Will the witches have the soup ready in time? Or will they end up in the brew?

Using the old folktale of Stone Soup, Capucilli adds elements of Halloween – monsters, trick-or-treating, gross-out foods – to create a delightful and festive story. Unfortunately, the addition of the monsters’ intimidating impatience diminishes the original’s message of sharing and community, and it’s unclear if the soup involves actual magic (suggested by the witch chefs and a spell performed over it). This isn’t necessarily bad, as it adds to the creepy-cute aesthetic and tone, but it is worth noting. The illustrations are wonderful, using a classic orange/green/purple/black Halloween palette and some hilarious character design to keep things lively. My only real complaint is a persona one: while the ingredients are suitably icky-yet-funny for young readers, I must admit that the mention of some – like old toenails or “juice of toad” – made my stomach turn at the thought. There’s a recipe in the back with normal ingredients, but the illustrations show them as written – yuck. But otherwise, the length was great and JJ loved it. 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.)