Turning Pages: My Life Story (Sonia Sotomayor)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Turning Pages: My Life Story, written by Sonia Sotomayor and illustrated by Lulu Delacre, a look at how words – both spoken and written – helped to shape Sotomayor into the woman she is today.

As far back as she can remember, words had a strong impact on Sonia, and the way she viewed the world. Long before she sat on the Supreme Court, she was a little girl listening to her abuelita recite poems of Puerto Rico, her family’s country of origin. After being diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, she turned to comic books – with their tales of courageous heroes hidden in plain sight – to help her deal with the fears her illness raised. Throughout her life, from the highs to the lows to all the moments in between, Sotomayor sought knowledge, escaped pain, broadened her world, and found out about herself in the pages of books, texts, newspapers, and magazines. To this day, a judge in the highest court of the United States, she uses words to make just decisions, help right wrongs, and protect the laws and people of our country.

Lovely! By framing her autobiography through the lens of her love of reading and language, Sotomayor not only relates her own story but also encourages young bookworms to seek language, learning, and reading themselves. I like that she encourages both scholarly reading and hobby reading, such as science fiction and comic books – any child literacy advocate will tell you that there is no right or wrong way to enjoy reading. There’s a lot of text, so this may be better for older readers – JJ’s attention was fading by the end – and a spread on encyclopedias could have used some clarification for younger readers (because, let’s face it, encyclopedias are rapidly becoming obsolete). The art does a wonderful job of combining the reality of Sotomayor’s life with the more abstract or fantastic journeys her reading takes her on, and the mixed-media printed text elements are a clever nod. We enjoyed this one – Baby Bookworm approved!

The Word Collector (Peter H. Reynolds)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds, a love letter to the power and passion of words.

Jerome, like many kids his age, loves to collect. But while others may collect comic books or stamps, Jerome collects words. Words he hears, words he reads, words that sound funny or appealing, words he doesn’t know the meaning of yet, short words, long words, descriptive words, powerful words. Jerome collects them all into scrapbooks, which grow more categorized and extensive as his collection grows. One day, while moving the scrapbooks, he stumbles and drops them, scattering the words about in disarray. But looking at how the words have landed – out of order and in fascinating new combinations – Jerome is inspired. He begins stringing the words together in new ways to express himself, write poems and songs, or to provide comfort and support to his friends. At last, he decides to share his collection with others, releasing the words into the wind as children gather them to start their own collections – something that makes Jerome indescribably happy.

Lovely. I’ve been a logophile most of my life, so this was such a treat – I loved Jerome’s relationship with words and their remarkable ability to express almost anything in the human experience. Even for those not word-obsessed, this is a great way of exploring the power that words have in both great and humble ways – how less is often more, how innovation drives language, and ultimately how a wider vocabulary can benefit its owner and user. The illustrations are delightful, using small vignettes and full page spreads to convey moments and concepts both big and small. Another review did point out that the story serves almost exclusively the English language – not necessarily a detraction, but something to note. Otherwise, the length was great, JJ enjoyed it, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Big Words For Little Geniuses (Susan & James Patterson)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Big Words For Little Geniuses, written by Susan and James Patterson and illustrated by Hsinping Pan.

Have you ever been part of a kerfuffle? Or seen something that was a bit catawampus? Ever wanted to know if there was a word for the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth? (There is, it’s “arachibutyrophobia”!) This delightfully unusual alphabet book challenges little readers with lesser-known, often-lengthy, and wonderfully fun-to-say words that they may not hear elsewhere. Little bookworms can learn about words like “Lilliputian”, “quokka”, and “flibbertigibbet”, from phonetic spelling to an easily-understood definition, with even more words included in a glossary in the backmatter.

What fun! As a lover of words, especially unusual, little-used, and/or esoteric ones, this was an incredibly enjoyable read for both myself and JJ. The Pattersons do a great job of choosing words that are unusual yet still entertaining and identifiable, so kids can indeed find use for them in their everyday lives (as can the adults reading with them)! The whimsical and vivid color-block illustrations are a treat, and JJ absolutely adored them. This was a good length for a quick read-through, and could provide lots of fun for repeat readings and learning opportunities. A perfect book for budding logophiles, and we definitely recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

A Day With Dogs (Dorothée de Monfreid)

Hello, friends! Our book today is A Day With Dogs by Dorothée de Monfreid, a positively wonderful book of words, letters, numbers and animals for beginning readers.

Follow a motley crew of dogs as they wake up, get ready for the day, visit the city and the countryside, go shopping, prepare meals, and head to bed. On each page is a new setting and subject, labeling the lively illustrations with dozens of worlds for young readers to learn as they explore.

Listen, JJ almost always likes our review book, but it’s worth noting how much she ADORED this one. The intricately detailed and labeled illustrations are inspired by the work of Richard Scarry, and they create the same sort of excitement and interest I remember having when I read his books myself as a little one. JJ was enthralled with each page, which was filled with new and familiar words and concepts to learn. She eagerly pointed to the ones she knew, and just as eagerly asked to have the unfamiliar ones read to her. She was very excited to pour over it long after storytime had ended, and that’s always a good sign. We would highly recommend this to any curious little bookworm, especially a dog-loved. As for us, we’ll be adding it to our home library as soon as possible! Emphatically Baby Bookworm approved!