Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer

Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer by Carol Brendler, illustrated by Ard Hoyt

Winnie loves earthworms.  She knows all sorts of facts about them, pulls them around in her wagon, and even races them.  But when the county fair rolls around, she realizes that there is no category for her beloved worms to compete in.  She speaks with three neighbors.  One is growing corn for the fair and needs a good fertilizer.  Another is raising chickens and needs the right feed to make them the best egg layers.  And the third is raising puppies and needs something to get their coats shining.  She makes a deal with each of them that if she finds the answer to their needs they will share the prize with her.  Then she uses her worms to help with the corn, the corn to help with the eggs, and the eggs to help with the shiny coats.  It’s a clever solution from a bright, scientific girl.

I love any book that breaks with the stereotype of girls not liking worms, dirt or animals.  Winnie is a great protagonist for a picture book because she shatters that myth.  She holds and hugs worms with delight.  I also appreciate how intelligent she is and how she solves her own problems by using her brain. 

Brendler’s text is fun to read aloud.  She has taken a traditional tale format and modernized it.  Readers will find themselves in a traditional format and be surprised, which is delightful.  Hoyt’s illustrations are funny, sometimes frenzied, and wiggly with worms.  Any worm haters out there will love the reaction of Winnie’s cat as it grimaces about the worms she loves.

A strong heroine in a modern picture book, this wiggly mass of worms is loads of fun.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Happy Belly, Happy Smile

Happy Belly, Happy Smile by Rachel Isadora

Every Friday night, Louie has dinner at his Grandpa Sam’s restaurant in Chinatown.  He watches the fish in the tank, visits with the chefs in the kitchen, and listens to the waiters calling to each other.  Then it is time to eat.  Louie and his grandfather use chopsticks to eat their rice, dumplings, egg rolls, and chow mein.  The dinner finishes with a fortune cookie.

Children of all races and ages will see some of their favorite things about eating out at a Chinese restaurant.  They will also be thrilled to glimpse the hidden, steamy world of the kitchen.  Isadora tells a simple story in only a few words on each page.  The book is very visual with her illustrations in collage and oils.  Her interesting use of lines and texture are most impressive when dinner is served.  The paper becomes mouthwateringly edible.

Recommended for story times on food, this book will have everyone sharing their own favorite Chinese meal.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by TheHappyNappyBookseller.