Baby Librarians

Where Marian & Tilly Have Some Serious Book Discussions

Baby Librarians Tilly and Marian Shelving Books
Full page spread of Julian is a Mermaid

Baby book review: Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Baby librarian Marian and her mommy Margaret review the gorgeous picture book Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love.

Cover of Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Marian reviews Julián Is a Mermaid

Mommy let me turn the pages of this book even though it’s a paper book and not a board book! She said she was really proud of me for not tearing any of the pages. This book is too pretty to tear the pages, though it’s also nice to tear pages of pretty books because then I get to keep some of that prettiness for myself. Especially if I eat the page, then it’s always with me. Though Mommy says sometimes she finds pages of books in my poop.

Marian reads Julian is a MErmaidAnway, this little boy sees three mermaids on a subway, which is confusing, because Mommy says that mermaids live in the ocean. Then he imagines himself as a mermaid, and when he and his abuela (or gramma) get home, he dresses up like a mermaid. And Abuela even gives him a pretty necklace! Maybe I’ll ask Gramma for a necklace next time she comes over. And maybe we can dress up! Like Julián, I enjoy dressing up, as long as it’s on my terms. I like to put this transparent box on my head and play while looking through it. I pretend I’m an astronaut. And sometimes I put hats on top of my head; I haven’t figured out how to actually get them on my head. Mommy says I’ll be able to someday.

This book is really excellent. I love pointing at all the Juliáns as he turns into a mermaid. Maybe one day I’ll dress up like a mermaid too.

Margaret reviews Julián Is a Mermaid

I LOVE this book! It’s such a beautiful celebration of pretend play and the special relationship between a grandson and his abuela. It’s so heartfelt and sends a powerful message about love and acceptance and letting a child be whoever they want to be. Please world, let little boys play pretend and dress up like mermaids if they want to! And while we’re at it, give them a doll too!

And Marian really truly loved this book. She flipped through all the pages many times, and played with it for a solid 15 minutes, which in one-year-old time is an amazing feat. I had to read it intermittently, because she wanted to hog the book to herself, haha.

If I’d read it earlier, it would’ve made my favorite children’s books 2018 list.

Spread of Dream Big, Little One

Baby book club: Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison

Welcome to another baby book club! Today we are discussing Dream Big, Little Oneby Vashti Harrison, which is the board book version of her book Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History.

Tilly: This book shows lots of different women all doing different things. Mummy says I can do them too. All the women in the book have skin darker than mine, so maybe I can’t do all the things they can. My hair is the same colour as them though. What do you reckon? Do you need to have dark skin to do all those things?

Marian: That’s an interesting question. I have a book called I Want to be an Astronaut, and the girl astronaut has skin that’s almost the same color as mine, and blonde hair. So I think any girl can be an astronaut. I have no hair, so I hope having hair isn’t a prerequisite for any of these. And you know what? I have a keyboard like Nina Simone’s (except gray and not black, but Mommy says the keys are the same), and I play it just like she does, and sometimes I even sing. So I think we can be anything we want.

Tilly: Mummy sometimes says she wonders what I’ll be when I grow up. What do you think you’ll be when you grow up? Does your mummy ever talk to you about that? I want to do something where I can be outside a lot. I like going outside. There are woofs to pet and rocks to collect and dirt to play with! Outside is the best.

Marian: When I grow up, I want to be able to reach everything, and turn on the TV when I want, and have my own phone. I wonder what that’s called? I wonder if any of the ladies in the book can do these things? Mommy says I might be a music conductor. She can see me leading people, and because I love music. Which is true, I do love music. For Halloween, I was the Phantom of the Opera, so maybe as an adult, I can always be Phantom of the Opera.

Daddy and Tilly reading Dream Big Little One.

Tilly: There’s an astronaut in this book! That’s kind of cool. My mum says her name is Mae Jemison and she’s the first African American woman to go to space. I like her because it reminds me of my other space book, the solar system one. Mummy says that I can be whatever I want to be but she hopes I won’t be an astronaut. She says it’s too scary. Do you have a favourite person in this book?

Marian: Astronauts are cool! I have several astronaut books too. Mommy says everyone in our family has really bad eyesight so that might mean I can’t be an astronaut, if I have bad eyesight too, but instead I could work on rocket ships, like Katherine Johnson, who is also in this book. Mommy says she was a mathematician for NASA. I don’t know how I feel about Mommy saying my eyes might be bad, because she also says my eyes are perfect. I get a lot of mixed signals. My favorite person in the book is Nina Simone. Mommy sometimes plays music where Nina Simone sings and plays the piano, just like in the book.

Tilly: I also liked Nina Simone. She’s sitting at a piano at the book! Mummy says she was a singer, pianist, songwriter, and activist in the Civil Rights Movement. I don’t know what all that means. But I think she made music. That’s why I like her. I like music. And I like watching other people play the piano. They press keys and music comes out! Like magic! Mummy told me you got a piano for your birthday. Did you really? You’re so lucky!

Marian with Dream Big, Little OneMarian: I LOVE my piano, and I sing while I play! It’s so much fun, and is definitely magic. I hope you get one someday too. Nina Simone sings this song called “Summertime” where fish are jumpin’, and that’s neat. I’d like to see a fish jump. Your mummy sounds like my mommy. She had a lot to say on every page, even though there didn’t seem to be that many words. Like, for Octavia Butler she went on and on about her adult books and how she won the MacArthur Genius Grant, whatever that means. Boring. Though I liked Octavia Butler’s pretty coat. Sometimes I had to take the book away from Mommy so she would stop going on and on explaining things I didn’t understand. But I get it. Mommy can get really excited about books, almost as excited as I do.

Ninja Red Riding Hood featured image

Baby book review: Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat

Baby librarian Tilly and her mum Jen review Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat.

Ninja Red Riding Hood book cover

Tilly reviews Ninja Red Riding Hood

What a great book! This is a very good action story with some quite stressful bits. But that’s okay because I like being pretend-scared. There are three bits I like about this book. One, it rhymes. So it’s nice to listen to, and it’s a fun rhyme. Two, there are ninjas and fights and kicks and those are fun to read about and look at. My mummy and daddy like kicking and punching and they said when I turn four I get to learn how to do that too! And the third thing I like about this book is the ending. There’s yoga! I can do yoga. And I like it when I go to family yoga because Mummy and Daddy and Grandpa and Grandma and my two aunts and uncle all go into funny positions and I can climb them and crawl under them when they make a downward dog tunnel. So I like that there’s yoga in this book as well as fighting.

Tilly pausing snack time to read Ninja Red Riding Hood.

Jen reviews Ninja Red Riding Hood

In the past year and a bit of reading children’s books aloud, I have discovered that not all rhyming books are created equal. Yes, a lot of children’s books and books aimed at babies rhyme. But not all of them have the magical combination of rhyme, rhythm, cadence, and repetition that make reading aloud a sheer pleasure. Sometimes it just rhymes. This book does more than just rhyme! This is one of the great ones for reading aloud because it is a wonderful mix of fun characters, great rhyme and rhythm, gorgeous illustrations, AND a familiar story with a twist. It’s Little Red Riding Hood as I’ve never read it before and I love it. Can’t wait to read the other books by Corey Rosen Schwartz.


Baby book review: This and That by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek

Baby librarian Tilly and her mum Jen review This & That by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek.

This and That book cover

Tilly reviews This and That

I like this book very much! It’s a very lovely cuddly kind of book — Mummy always gives me a good cuddle with this one, and she usually gives me a kiss at the end like the book tells her to. The rhyme is quite fun to listen to, with some good pauses and bits that repeat. And the rhyming bits that are different are sometimes fun silly things. Like there are speckled hens who are terribly terribly fat and crazy giraffes who tried to sit on a mat. This is another book I like to listen to a lot.

Jen reviews This and That

Another magical delight from my favourite author/illustrator combination of Mem Fox and Judy Horacek. The fun thing about this one is the illustrations lead into each other from one page to the next, and you can spot the mother mouse and the baby mouse as they go on a grand adventure with stories of this and stories of that. The rhyme, rhythm, and repetition in this make it great fun to read aloud, and I like how the structure changes just a little at the end — keeps you on your toes. This is another book that Tilly brings to me and demands multiple readings of in one sitting.

I was eating lunch when Tilly brought me a book to read. So lunch was paused and story time commenced.

We’re Mem Fox fiends here, so check out our other reviews!

Picture of bear cubs

Baby book review: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle

Baby librarian Tilly and her mum Jen review Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle.

Brown Bear Brown Bear book cover

Tilly reviews Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

I love this book! This is the best book! This is my favourite book in the whole wide world! It’s chant-y, like a song, so I can dance to it when Mummy reads it to me. I like dancing. And there are animals but a lot of them are funny colours. Like bears are supposed to be brown and ducks are supposed to be yellow and frogs are supposed to be green. But horses aren’t blue! And cats aren’t purple! That’s so silly. I like listening to this book over and over so I make Mummy and Daddy read it lots. They never say no to me.

Tilly reading Brown Bear Brown Bear

Tilly reading Brown Bear Brown Bear. She’ll read it herself but it’s better when Mummy or Daddy read it to her.

Jen reviews Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

I’m starting to hate this book a little. Tilly will bring it to me and I’ll read it to her. Then we close the last page and she hands it to me again with those imploring eyes, as if to say, ‘What are you waiting for? Again, Mummy! Again!’ And so I read it again. And again. And I won’t say no to her when it comes to reading aloud because I’m glad that she likes books and stories and will actually bring me books to read to her but bloody hell… Brown Bear, *again*? At least it *is* a fun one to read aloud, and I do love the signature Eric Carle illustrations. I’m tempted to hide this one. That would be mean, wouldn’t it?

Back of Each Peach Pear Plum by Ahlberg

Baby Book review: Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allen Ahlberg

Baby librarian Tilly and her mum Jen review Each Peach Pear Plumby Janet and Allen Ahlberg.

Each Peach Pear Plum book cover

Tilly reviews Each Peach Pear Plum

This is a very good rhyming book. I like listening to this one. There are lots of characters from other stories and rhymes and it’s fun to spot them. Like there’s Jack and Jill, and Robin Hood, and the Wicked Witch, and Cinderella. The board book that I have of this is a good size too, and good for turning pages. Sometimes board books are too smooth and the pages get stuck and I can’t turn them properly but this one is a good one. Mummy keeps pointing at the pictures and telling me to look but I don’t really see the appeal. She says there are lots to look for and I’ll understand when I’m older. Grown-ups are *always* saying that. They’re so boring. But this is still a comforting book to listen to so I can’t complain.

Tilly reading Each Peach Pear Plum.

Tilly reading Each Peach Pear Plum with her big cuddle bear.

Jen reviews Each Peach Pear Plum

I adore this book! It’s a wonderful game of I Spy, with each page (and line of the rhyme) introducing a fairytale or nursery rhyme character and they are partially hidden in the picture. Tilly is a little young to grasp the nuances of small details and hidden illustrations so we don’t spend a great deal of time examining the pictures, but I’m hoping that this is one book we’ll spend more time with when she is older. In the meantime, this is a very fun rhyming book to read aloud. I wish this is one of the ones that Tilly wants me to read repeatedly (see: Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?) but sadly that is not the case.

2019 board book covers

2019 Children’s Books To Be Excited About: Board Books

Happy New Year in children’s books! Baby librarian Marian and her mommy Margaret have scoured the 2019 children’s book releases (that have been announced), and bring you these 2019 board books to get excited about. Later in the week (or next), they’ll list their favorite 2019 picture books. There were just too many for a single post.

Marian’s Favorite 2019 Board Books

Mommy says I should pick out the books I want to read the most, but I’m only excited about Sesame Street books. I love seeing the characters and pointing at all their faces! I can’t wait to include these with my other Sesame Street books. I’m a little sad none of these are noise books though. Maybe some Sesame Street music books will come out later in the year. These are my most favorite books.

Cover of Just One You by Sesame Street Workshop

Here’s a list of all the Sesame Street board books I could find:

Mommy says she’s excited by more books that aren’t Sesame Street, so I’ll let her take over the rest of this post.

Margaret’s Favorite 2019 Board Books

While I also enjoy Sesame Street, I like to read other things, as does Marian, whatever she may say to the contrary. So here are my top 2019 board books to be excited about! I haven’t read any of these yet, but my library card is ready for some checking out.

Cover of Grandma's Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Grandma’s Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (April 2)

I actually have read the hardback version of this book, and it’s so good! Have you ever read a book that just perfectly captures what it is to be a young child? This is one of those books. What child doesn’t love going through purses? And the new board book version is actually shaped like a purse! I can totally see Marian toting this around.

Cover of A is for Awesome by Eva ChenA Is for Awesome!: 23 Iconic Women Who Changed the World by Eva Chen, illustrated by Derek Desierto (February 5)

We love our feminist board books, and I’m excited about adding this one to our collection. It’s by the same author of the picture book Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes, which I haven’t read but it’s on my radar.

Cover of Dragons are Real by Eva ChenDragons Are Real!and Unicorns Are Real! by Holly Hatam (March 26)

I love fantasy everything, so of course I love fantasy children’s books. And obviously dragons and unicorns are real. And I love Holly Hatam’s art!

Baby Geek by Mark Mazzenga (April 23)

So yeah, if you haven’t guessed already, I’m a geek. This is a must own for us! There’s no link for it yet, but it’s listed in the Downtown Bookworks’ catalog.

Cover of Woke Baby by Mahogany Browne Woke Babyby Mahogany L. Browne, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III (January 4)

As an activist, of course I want to fill Marian’s library with progressive books. This will go perfectly with A is for Activist and Feminist Baby. Mahogany Browne is a poet, but I haven’t read any of her poems before. Still, I find that promising for a children’s books, where the writing needs to be so sparse.

Cover of Almost Everybody Farts by Marty KelleyAlmost Everybody Farts by Marty Kelley (March 5)

This book makes me laugh, and if it makes me laugh, it’s going to make kids laugh too. The humor will be over Marian’s head right now though.


Cover of A is for All the Things You Are by Anna Forgerson HindleyA Is for All the Things You Are: A Joyful ABC Book by Anna Forgerson Hindley, illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo (April 9)

Illustrated by the same illustrator of the award-winning I Am Enough and written by the ECE (early childhood education) coordinator at the National Museum of African American Culture and History, this is sure to be an excellent and diverse ABC book.

Cover of Little Poet Shakespeare by KAte Coombs

Little Poet William Shakespeare: I Love You by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Carme Lemniscates (March 26)

A new babylit book! These are great for all the English major mommies out there, ha. I hope this one is a poem. Jabberwocky: A BabyLit Nonsense Primer is my favorite babylit book so far, and it’s because the full text is there, and it’s such a fun poem. I hope this one has the same readability.

The Secret Garden Lit For Little HandsLit for Little Hands: The Secret Garden by David Miles (March 1)

I’m unfamiliar with this series, which contains interactive panels, and I’m excited about discovering them for the first time! I love The Secret Garden, and I see there’s also a Lit for Little Hands: Pride and Prejudice.

Any of these look good to you?


Spread of Little Christmas Tree by Jessica Courtney-Tickle

Baby book review: Little Christmas Tree by Jessica Courtney-Tickle

Baby librarian Marian and her mommy Margaret review the lovely lift-the-flap Little Christmas Tree by Jessica Courtney-Tickle.

Marian reviews Little Christmas Tree

Marian reads Little Christmas TreeThis book shimmers! I love how the tree shimmers on each page; it’s so pretty. It’s a lift-the-flap book, which are my favorite kind of books. I’m really good at lifting flaps, but this one has some tricky hidden ones. Mommy says they’re camouflaged. And they’re also small flaps, but I’m good enough now with my fine motor skills to lift all the flaps once I find them.

For some reason, Mommy won’t let me rip off the flaps and eat them. Why would she be so mean? If I figure out how to lift them, I should get to eat them. Fair is fair.

On each page there are different forest animals. I like all the forest animals; they match my stuffed animals, like Hippity my favorite bunny, Foxy paci paci, little silly squirrel. I do not have any swan stuffed animals though. Clearly that needs to be fixed.

Margaret reviews Little Christmas Tree

Cover of Little Christmas Tree by Jessica Courtney TickleThere’s a lot to love with this beautiful Christmas book. The illustrations are gorgeous. The words are simple and pretty and give clues about what’s behind each flap. It’s a pretty sturdy book, so the flaps aren’t as easily torn as in other books, though you probably still need to watch your toddler with it. It also has a wide age it could appeal to, from toddlers like Marian to elementary school children. And parents will love it for its beauty.

But. But. The birds!!!! Okay, I’m an amateur bird watcher, and these birds just make no sense. What in the world is a parakeet doing in a snow-laden forest? Goldfinches usually migrate, but not always, so I’ll be okay with that. It’s mainly the parakeet that bothers me. I won’t lie — I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out where this forest could be. There are white ferrets, which rules out the U.S. So maybe in Europe? But there are no native parakeets in Europe. Ugh. I must climb my way out of this rabbit hole.

Okay, so apparently Jessica Courtney-Tickle is from the UK. And guess what? In the 1970s pet green parakeets were accidently released in London, where they have since multiplied and continue to live. So I stand corrected — the book is accurate!

Despite my confusion, this is a lovely addition to a Christmas book library. Marian really enjoyed reading it, and now I’ve learned about how green parakeets came to live in London.

Baby book review: A Christmas Carol by Jennifer Adams, illustrated by Alison Oliver

Baby librarian Marian reviews the BabyLit board book A Christmas Carol: A Colors Primer by Jennifer Adams, illustrated by Alison Oliver.

Marian reviews A Christmas Carol

Marian with A Christmas CarolMommy clearly doesn’t know what this book is about. She kept providing me with what she called “backstory,” but her backstory didn’t have anything to do with colors, and this book makes it pretty clear that it’s about colors. And finding things. Every left pages gives a color and an object and a picture of the object. Then on the right side, the object is hiding somewhere in the picture. It’s a search and find book! Mommy kept pointing to a little mouse on every page, but the book didn’t say we needed to find a mouse, so I ignored her.

Mommy plays the search and find game with me sometimes. She’ll hide her phone in her pocket or under some blankets, but I can always find it. I’m good at search and find.

Honestly, I didn’t finish this book because Mommy kept telling me about backstory, and it was boring so I left her to play. I recommend babies read it on their own, not with their Mommies. 

Margaret reviews A Christmas Carol

It’s true: I can’t help but give some backstory to fill in the story gaps when Marian and I read the BabyLit books. She may be only one, but it’s never too early to get them started on the classics, right? 🙂

This is a fun little search and find for toddlers. Marian at one doesn’t have the understanding to find a “Black Hat” or “Gold Stars,” but at 2 or 3, this would make a great, interactive Christmas board book. And the little mouse to find on each page is a cute addition.

Just like in The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, the Ghost of Christmas Past is my favorite image, the happy Santa. 

Cover of A Christmas Carol by Jennifer Adams


Santa and child

Baby book review: Harold at the North Pole by Crockett Johnson

Baby Librarian Tilly reviews Harold at the North Pole by Crockett Johnson.

Tilly reviews Harold at the North Pole

Harold is a pretty good draw-er. He had to find a Christmas tree so Santa would know where to put his presents and he had to draw everything! He drew/found Santa’s house, and the reindeer, and all the toys, and his Christmas tree. So Christmas is saved, and Harold got to go on an adventure, and he gets his presents! That’s the most important part. I like presents. I’m good at getting presents now. I got lots of practice with my birthday and Hanukkah. 

Daddy was reading Harold at the North Pole for family story time. Baby Tilly was far too busy on Mummy’s phone to pay attention. #kidsthesedays

Jen reviews Harold at the North Pole

I didn’t even know there were other Harold books besides Harold and the Purple Crayon (which I loved), so it was a lovely surprise to discover this at the library. This was originally published in 1957 but released as a board book in 2018 (which was the edition we borrowed). Another delightful and creative story about a small boy and his purple crayon. Like Harold and the Purple Crayon, this book speaks to the power of imagination. But this one also includes the wonders of Christmas and is a warm and wonderful read. It’s the kind of book I’d like to read by a fireplace with a mug of hot chocolate. 

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