Our most recent journey to the temple of learning and free discourse yielded mixed results. (Jayce here. She means “library.” <eye-roll>) The experience itself was made all the more sweeter by the presence of Grandma Pig, who joined us for the day. Following is our review of several titles.

Dot, Stripe, Squiggle and Spot, Spike, Spiral by Sarah Grace Tuttle and Miriam Nerlove.

Justine: Beautiful art books featuring an array of marine and insect life, respectively, rendered in scanned watercolors. Linguistically reinforces the concept of dots, stripes, squiggles/spots, spikes, spirals by repeatedly pairing the appropriate word with different images.

Jayce: The board book format was a good choice for us because it allows Mom to prop the book open in our play space. This is a good gifting choice for babies-to-be.

Verdict: Visually stunning and fresh. 8 out of 10 pacifiers.

Bear and Hare Share by Emily Gravett

Justine: I object to this title on moral grounds.

Jayce: Of course you do…

Justine: The bunny rabbit refuses to share any of his toys with the bear for the entire book, yet when he gets into trouble with the bees for stealing the honey, bear shares his medical supplies. The bunny rabbit shows no indication he has learned that sharing ought to be exercised by both parties, nor does he show any remorse for his heretofore selfishness. He has merely benefitted from bear’s generosity. This picture book is a moral black hole.

Jayce: Well. The moral black hole did have nice pictures on surprisingly thick cardstock pages. Bonus points to the publishers for adding this textual interest.

Verdict: 2 out of 10 pacifiers for lack of character growth.

Black White by Tana Hoban

Jayce: This book is great! There are no words inside. Each spread is either black or white. One large silhouette is centered on each page in the opposite color. The result is a visually striking collection of basic images that adults and babies can enjoy together.

Justine: I must agree. Despite the absence of words, this is an excellent gift for any soon-to-arrive child. The silhouettes are gorgeous, and as an added bonus, many of the images are everyday items parents will want their children to learn.

Verdict: 10 out of 10 pacifiers. An excellent baby shower gift.

Red Bunny & Yellow Bunny by Claire Garralon

Jayce: This book was…

Justine: Awkward.

Jayce: That’s the word for it. I expected to find a book about combining colors. In the opening pages, we are told Red Bunny and Yellow Bunny love each other very much. To the point that one day, they have a baby bunny. The baby bunny is a different color, yes, but there is no use of actual “this plus this equals this color” theory.

Justine: However, there is a deliberate lack of personal pronouns. Given the fact that it was published in 2019, this was almost certainly an intentional decision to avoid referencing two binary genders or orientations.

Jayce: Those are some big words.

Justine: It’s inaccurate (and unfair) to claim the book openly promotes a non-biblical worldview of gender. However, due the missed opportunity to incorporate color theory, this awkward book of non-gendered bunny reproduction is best left on the library shelf.

Jayce: I am now uncomfortable. Thank you, Justine.

Verdict: 1 out of 10 pacifiers. Pass.

I’ll Teach My Dog 100 Words by Michael Frith

Justine: I applaud the lingual efforts of this book!

Jayce: Of course you do.

Justine: As the title implies, the narrator goes on a quest to teach his beloved companion 100 words. The text rhymes excellently in classic Dr. Seuss style, although you do need to read the pages at a fairly good clip or the rhymes may be lost.

Jayce: The keywords words are highlighted in red for children learning to read. On behalf of my fellow kid kind, however, I am obligated to say on the record, I suspect this book is a trick. Tell a kid up front you will teach them 100 new sight words, and they will run screaming the other direction.

Justine: I would not.

Jayce: I apologize. Any normal, self-respecting kid. But tell them this is a story about a dog learning 100 words and they’re all in. By the end of it, you’ve increased their vocabulary by 100 and the poor victims have no idea. It’s sick.

Justine: It’s education!

Verdict: A solid learning tool for young readers who will be delighted the dog is learning and not them. Wink, wink. 8 out of 10 pacifiers.

Pigs Make Me Sneeze! by Mo Willems

Jayce: We have saved the best for last! We love these books!

Justine: Indeed! So much of the humor is based on the simple yet delightful illustrations. A written review hardly does them justice. In typical Gerald and Piggie fashion, this installment has them confronting a possible pig-based allergy–very devastating to Gerald.

Jayce: I loved this particular story because of Piggie’s escalating defenses as Gerald sneezed. Hilarious.

Verdict: A fun read for all ages. 10 out of 10 pacifiers.