Goldy (Kate Ellie Fitzgerald)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Goldy, written by Kate Ellie Fitzgerald and illustrated by Melissa Filepe, a look at community coming together to help one of their own.

On his daily bike commute from school, Jack Gum notices that his favorite tree – a giant deciduous named for her lovely yellow-green leaves – has been chipped down, leaving only a stump behind. Jack wonders how to help Goldy, and gathers a crew of woodland friends to help him. The group collect tokens of their own bonds with Goldy, then perform a dance to celebrate the great tree, leaving their gifts near her roots. And while it may take time, their act of kindness and community should bring their old friend back to glory.

Warm and earnest, if slightly uneven. Fitzgerald’s story is a fairly classic one – child and animal friends band together to help another. In this theme, the story is effective, especially in noting that recovery for trees, just as it does for people, takes time. Where the book suffers are some artistic decisions made by freshman author Fitzgerald, be it the repetitive nature of friend-gathering sequence or the under-explained mythology of the pagan-like “token celebration.” Filepe’s illustrations have a distinct style, but the somewhat flat aspect that plague many indie books. In addition, many spreads are oddly condensed or low-resolution. The length is fine for a storytime, but the uneven pacing makes for an odd read; JJ’s attention wavered pretty early on. Still, there’s a lot of heart in this one, it just stumbles during the execution, and is worth a read. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Acorn Was a Little Wild (Jen Arena)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Acorn Was a Little Wild, written by Jen Arena and illustrated by Jessica Gibson, a playful tale of one very adventurous young seed.

Acorn was the first of his generation to take a flying leap from the tree. The great oak warned him not to, that squirrels would get him, but Acorn didn’t care – he was ready for an adventure. This began the little seed’s journey into the wider world, filled with ups, downs, a plenty of surprises along the way. What will become of our little acorn? Will the squirrels get him after all? Or is he destined for something more.

Positively delightful. Acorn’s entrance into the unknown is amusing and heartening, especially when viewed as a metaphor for a child striking out on their own. What makes this narrative especially enjoyable, however, is Acorn’s unflappable optimism and zest for life, even in times of trouble. It keeps the tone funny and cheerful, encouraging an adventurous spirit and a sunny outlook to young readers. Arena’s text is energetic and fun to read aloud, and Gibson’s cartoonish naturescapes give lively personality to every plant and creature. The length is perfect for any storytime, and JJ had a ton of fun with this one. Overall, an absolute treat, and we highly recommend 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.)

Trees (Tony Johnston)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Trees, written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Tiffany Bozic, a gorgeous and enchanting ode to, well, trees.

What is more perfect than a tree? Gentle, spare free verse poetry leads readers through various musings on the wonders of trees; their love of the sky, the way they provide the perfect perch for songbirds, the wonder of their leaves and bark and the shade they provide. The way they invite us to climb, to sit under them with a good book, or simply to bask in the calm and peace of their spring blossoms.

A stunning ode to the simple magnificence of trees. The star of the show is Bozic’s absolutely jaw-dropping realist paintings of various trees, their environments, and the fauna that interacts with them. The details, colors, framing, and perspectives are all absolutely astounding, and readers can practically hear the rustle of the leaves in Bozic’s incredibly lifelike trees. Johnston’s sincere and earnest verse fits the tone perfectly, adding just the right amount of lyrical depth but knowing when to step back and let the visuals of trees themselves be the focus. This also makes this the perfect title for any age – the text is simple enough for even very young readers, and the art will astonish bookworms young and old. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ absolutely adored the artwork. An awesome way to appreciate the singular beauty of trees, and 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 Things That I Love About Trees (Chris Butterworth)

Hello friends! Our book today is The Things That I Love About Trees, written by Chris Butterworth and illustrated by Charlotte Voake, a meditative ode to trees throughout the seasons.

A little girl and her friends spend time throughout the year playing among the trees and appreciating what makes them so lovely in each season. In the spring, their buds and blossoms begin to start, and change is in the air. By summer, their leaves are full and shady; in autumn, they turn every color and begin to fall. And in winter, they are quiet and still, and you can see all the way up to their tops. In addition to the girl’s musings, the reader is also treated to facts about trees on each page, so they can find their things to love about trees as well.

Informative and stunningly illustrated. While the story structure and contemplations of the girl hit fairly familiar beats on the subject, the intricate, sweeping art is what sets this book apart. The trees are so sumptuous and splendidly illustrated that it feels as if you can see them moving in the breeze, or hear the whispers and cracks of their branches, leaves, and bark. The factoids are fun too, providing basic trivia on trees and their seasonal cycles for little bookworms. The length is fine, and JJ loved the art. Equal parts science and poetry, and we enjoyed it very much. Baby Bookworm approved!

Wonderfall (Michael Hall)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the lovely Wonderfall by Michael Hall, a clever book of word mash-ups that celebrates the fall season.

Told through the eyes of a colorful autumn tree, we are presented with scenes from fall, each set to the theme of a different play on the word “fall.” There are the “beautifall” shades of red, orange, and brown that make up the season’s colors, the “frightfall” costumes of the trick-or-treaters on Halloween, the “plentifall” harvest, and a “thankfall” holiday full of delicious treats to gobble-gobble up. Then, as the air turns cool and the tree loses its leaves, it is delighted to welcome a new kind of fall: the first snowfall of winter.

What a fabulous book! This one was a delightfall (yes, I did that) feast for the eyes and ears, using a clever premise and some truly joyful art to celebrate all the best aspects of the autumn season. Each “fall” word is accompanied by a short poem that captures the subject in lovely minimal style, which both illustrates the topic while giving the main character – a tree – an astounding amount of endearing personality. The art manages to use a fall color palette and simple shapes to create images bursting with life, energy, and spectacle. The length was perfect, and JJ and I both adored it. This is a wonderfall book to help ring in the season with your little one, and it’s absolutely Baby Bookworm approved.