Papa Brings Me The World (Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Papa Brings Me The World by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw, a story of a father and daughter and the adventurous spirit they share.

Lu’s Papa is not like other Papas. While some fathers take their car or a bus or a train to work, Lu’s Papa travels much further than most; he is a photojournalist, and travels around the world to take pictures of places and things that most of us have never seen before. When he returns from his journeying, he always brings a gift for Lu, be it a bit of the local currency, a musical instrument, a new pen pal, or even simply his journals, filled with stories and drawings of far-away places. Lu often misses her Papa, especially on special days, but she would never wish him to stop traveling; like her, he has a wanderlust too compelling, and she looks forward to the day they can travel the world together.

Very sweet. This look at a unique father-daughter relationship, based on the author/illustrator’s real-life father, tells a simple yet sweet story that is as much about travel and exploration as it is about family. The treasures and tales that Lu’s father brings her are fascinating; stories about cairns in the Andes and games of “Semut, Orang, Gajah” in Sumatra draw in the reader as much as they do Lu (in fact, a clever illustration reveals how to play “Semut, Orang, Gajah”, letting readers participate in the joy of discovery). The art is rich and textured, and tells as much of the story as the text does with color, pattern, and style. It is a bit lengthy for younger bookworms; JJ was losing focus near the end, though she enjoyed the detailed artwork very much. A tender tale of family that opens up a world of exploration, and we liked 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.)

The Adventures Of Princess Pudding Pie (Saureen Naik Desai)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Adventures Of Princess Pudding Pie, written by Saureen Naik Desai and illustrated by Marco Mazzarello, a culinary journey around the world.

The joyful Princess Pudding Pie (who, with the exception of an actual pie for a head and face, is drawn as an otherwise normal girl) welcomes the reader, inviting them to join her for a trip around the world. There’s plenty to see, plenty to experience, and plenty to eat! In fact, the different regional desserts are one of Pudding Pie’s favorite things about traveling; each country has its own unique and delicious treat to try, from apple pie to gulab jamuns to brigadeiros.

Mostly delicious fun. This is a great concept for a book, and almost entirely well-executed. The rhyming text is brisk, bouncy, yet informative, the desserts featured are wholly unique to their countries, and Pudding Pie is even sure to remind young kiddos that desserts are meant for AFTER a full, healthy meal. The artwork, however, is where things falter a bit. Other than the odd choice of Pudding Pie’s design – the pie for a head is slightly off-putting throughout – the artwork has great promise: famous landmarks, clever details, and the incorporation of the colors/patterns of each country’s flag in Pie’s outfit. However, some of the outfits, which are modeled after traditional garb or regalia of the featured country, veer into the murky waters of cultural appropriation. In Kenya, Pie wears traditional Maasai regalia; in India, a sari and bindi; in Japan, kanzashi and a kimono. While the intent was likely to showcase these traditional attires, they should have been worn by a native character, not the tourist Pie. It’s an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise stellar indie. Otherwise, the length was fine and JJ enjoyed learning about the different foods. A few visual stumbling blocks, but otherwise worth a look, especially for young foodies. Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Lilly Lou Makes A Friend (Mike Murphy)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Lilly Lou Makes A Friend, written by Mike Murphy and illustrated by Jonathan Hoefer, a story of a very unusual visitor.

Lilly Lou lives on a small farm in Missouri, with her mother and father (Mr. & Mrs. Lou) and their collection of animals. One night, a mysterious craft crashes onto their farm, and a strange creature emerges! Moozy Toozy is a young panda-like animal from the planet Mooz, who has gotten lost and crashed while racing ships with his brother. Now the friendly alien asks for help in finding both his family and a way home. What are the Lous to do?

So first off, while this appears to be a picture book, it’s actually an early chapter book with the odd full-page spread illustration sprinkled between. The story is light for the most part, but struggles to find a consistent pace or tone – part lighthearted, fish-out-of-water sci-fi, part friendship tale, part travel-guide to New York City, each section moves along too briskly to get a firm hold of just what is trying to be conveyed. This is particularly noticeable in the NYC landmark paragraphs, which madly dumps a load of information on the sites such as the Statue of Library, Plaza Hotel, etc., as quickly as possible, then moves on too swiftly to absorb it (not helping is the information chosen, which is often bland dates, statistics, or references that children surely will not get – exactly how many early readers have seen the movie The Way We Were?). Perhaps most bothering are moments which are simply tonedeaf and inappropriate for young readers, such as when the mistreatment of horses in Central Park is discussed – even illustrated – then left without resolution, or another startling sequence that involves the Lou family and company literally being held at gunpoint by police. JJ was quickly bored with the matter-of-fact delivery of story and dialogue, and while the illustrations are certainly original, there is little they could do to distract from the book’s shortcomings. This one simply was not for us.

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

Little Blue Chair (Cary Fagan)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Little Blue Chair, written by Cary Fagan and illustrated by Madeline Kloepper, a lovely tale of a child’s beloved chair and it’s unexpected provenance.

Boo loves his little blue chair, the one that is just his size. He eats all his meals in it, he reads all his books in it, he even takes it outside to build a fort with. When Boo finally outgrows the chair, his mother places it at the end of the yard with a sign, offering it free to whomever would like it. And so begins the chair’s unexpected journey, being passed from person to person as it becomes a plant stand, a carnival ride, an elephant saddle, a bird feeder, and often another child’s chair. Making its way across oceans and land, from family to family, the chair manages to find its way back into the hands of someone who once loved it very much, and is happy to share it with someone for whom it is still the perfect size.

This was a very sweet story, and we really enjoyed it. The chair’s journey is filled with surprises, and keeps the reader wondering what its next owner will be using it for. And the ending, in which Boo finds the chair again and fixes it up, passing it on to his young daughter, is just perfect. The whimsical and detailed illustrations are intricate and filled with life, and lots of fun to examine with a close eye. The length is great, and JJ loved the little chair and its big adventure. We can definitely recommend this one to readers who appreciate the wonder of precious, ordinary objects. Baby Bookworm approved!

The Blue Songbird (Vern Kousky)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is The Blue Songbird by Vern Kousky, a wonderfully touching story about learning how to find yourself.

A little songbird wakes up every morning to the beautiful songs of her sisters. She wishes her song could be as sweet, but she can’t seem to find the right notes. Her mother encourages her, though, telling her that she must find the song that is hers alone, and she must have the courage to seek it out. So the songbird leaves home for the first time, flying across land and oceans to find her song. She asks all the birds along the way for guidance: a helpful crane, a seemingly wise owl, even snowbound penguins. She sees snow-capped mountains and desert plains, flying around the entire world on her quest. At last, a clever crow points her in the direction of a golden island where her song can be found. But when the little songbird arrives, she finds the island is, in fact, her home. Disappointed, she wings toward her family. As she opens her beak to tell them of her adventures, she finds that what comes out aren’t words, but her own special song, singing of the incredible journey she’s taken… and the sweetness of returning home.

I LOVED this one. The metaphor of finding oneself in travel and experience, and the message that home will be there for you when you return, is beautifully woven into a story that stresses the values of courage, self-relience, and family. I loved that the ultimate message was that who we are is made equally of where we come from AND what we choose to be. The art is lovely, using muted colors and simple lines to create a world of possibilities for the little bird. The length is perfect, and JJ adored it. This is a timeless story told in beautiful style, and it’s emphatically Baby Bookworm approved!