Lali’s Feather (Farhana Zia)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Lali’s Feather, written by Farhana Zia and illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman, a delightful story of ingenuity and friendship.

Lali is playing in the field one day when she finds a feather. Wishing to return it to its owner, she asks Rooster, Crow, and Peacock if they are missing it. They all say no, pointing out the feather’s plainness (as opposed to Peacock’s fancy feathers) and pokeyness (as opposed to Crow’s perky feathers), and so on. So Lali decides to keep her feather to play with. Her friends Hen, Duck, Jay laugh at the little feather, but as Lali finds more and more ways to creatively play with the feather, all six of the birds become more excited and invested. Then, when a gust of wind blows the feather out of Lali’s grasp, she is left broken-hearted. Fortunately, her feathered friends are there, and eager to bring her feather back.

Wonderfully unique. Various themes are explored in this one (different species of birds, imaginative play, not judging by appearances, etc.), all weaving together to create a story that is rich with substance yet light and fun to read. Particularly enjoyable is Lali’s creative mind, which can find a hundred uses for a plain, small, pokey feather, such as tickling, sweeping, writing, and more. It shows little readers that any ordinary object can be a toy, and the very best games are often the ones we create ourselves. The illustrations are gorgeous, creating a lush country home setting and memorable characters. Lali’s Indian culture is flawlessly woven throughout, from her bindi and clothing to the Indian slang used in the dialogue (translations are not provided, yet easy to guess from context). The length is perfect, and JJ adored the colors and characters. A marvelously enjoyable tale, 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.)

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.)

Don’t Forget Dexter! (Lindsay Ward)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Don’t Forget Dexter! by Lindsay Ward, the adorable tale of a little lost dinosaur looking for his best friend.

Excuse me, but have you seen a little boy named Jack? You see, he came here to the doctor’s office to get a check up with his best friend, Dexter T. Rexter, but now Dexter is here alone and can’t find his best bud. Dexter has done everything he can think of to find Jack: he’s looked hard, asked the receptionist and the fish in the fish tank (neither answered him), he even sang their special song really loud! You don’t think – Jack wouldn’t have left Dexter on purpose… would he?

Wonderfully cute. Dexter is the toy that every child has – they one they can’t live without, yet always manages to get misplaced once a week – and makes an adorably endearing hero in this lost and found story. The illustrations are bright and colorful, and give Dexter a lot of personality in his expressions and movement. The text is fun, using fourth-wall breaking dialogue and plenty of onomatopoeia to keep little ones invested. And don’t worry, the story has a happy ending, and can be used to teach children the importance of keeping tabs on their prized possessions (especially their beloved stuffed pals). The length is perfect, and JJ absolutely loved the “owange dinosawr!” This one is a great mix of fun and feeling, and we liked it a lot. 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.)

Little Fox In The Forest (Stephanie Graegin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the very sweet Little Fox In The Forest by Stephanie Graegin, a touching tale of friendship and generosity.

This wordless picture book begins with a teacher telling a class of students, including the protagonist, that the next day will be show-and-tell; they should bring something precious and old. The little girl protagonist knows just what to bring: her beloved toy fox, which she has had since she was a baby as a constant companion. After class, she brings the little fox to the playground with her friends, but as she is enjoying the swings, a real-life fox snatches it from her backpack! The little girl and her best friend race after the fox, going on an adventure through the woods that parallels the adventure of the toy fox and its new owner. Will the little fox find its way back home – or will home become something new and unexpected?

I’ll be honest, JJ isn’t usually interested in wordless picture books, but we really enjoyed this one! The story is so charming and exciting, the characters are so expressive, and the illustrations so detailed and lively that it was easy to enjoy the story with our own narration. The ending was especially wonderful, with both the little girl and the real fox showing each other a touching generosity and kindness that stands as a great lesson for little ones. The length is as much as or little as you choose to make it, but it can be comfortably flipped through with a little reader, and JJ enjoyed this much more than other pictures-only books. This one will take a little more creativity than the average storybook, but the end result is well worth it. Baby Bookworm approved!