Caramel reviews Somebody to Love by Valerie June

The book bunnies’ household is very rarely without music, but the bunnies have not really reviewed too many books that engage with it. The one main exception is Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem written by poet Amanda Gorman and illustrated by Loren Long, which was reviewed by Caramel about a year ago, and involved music at its heart. Today Caramel reviews another picture book, Somebody to Love, written in 2022 by the singer Valerie June and illustrated by Marcela Avelar, which has music all throughout.

The book bunnies received this book as a review copy.

Caramel reviews Somebody to Love written by Valerie June and illustrated by Marcela Avelar.
Caramel reviews Somebody to Love written by Valerie June and illustrated by Marcela Avelar.

Sprinkles: Caramel, here we are. Yet again, talking about a new book. What do you want to tell us about this one?

Caramel: This is a book about a banjolele.

S: What’s that?

C: It’s like a ukulele mixed with a banjo. It is a small musical instrument with four strings. And there is a girl in the book named Valerie June who is given one of these instruments.

S: So this is the author, right?

C: I think so. She is a singer and she wrote this book about a song she sings with her banjolele called “Somebody to Love”. Can we put a video of her singing her song here?

S: Sure Caramel. Here it is:

Valerie June sings “Somebody to Love” (2013, YouTube).

S: Do you like the song Caramel?

C: Yes she has a beautiful voice.

S: How about the banjolele?

C: Yes. It has a very distinctive voice.

S: I know you are a lot more musical than me Caramel. But even I could appreciate her voice. And the single instrument makes the piece focus a lot more on her voice I think. But do you think she wrote the book to just have more people learn about her and her song?

C: Maybe. Who knows? But I think she wrote it because she wanted to tell people the story of her banjolele.

S: How so?

C: In the book Valerie takes the banjolele to a park to play music with other people. But the banjolele is too weak and cannot sing a whole song. But technically she should be able to strum and make the sounds she wants so it cannot be the banjolele who is not able to sing so I am not sure I understand.

S: Well, I think it is a bit more symbolic than that.

C: I guess that makes a lot more sense. But what could she mean by the banjolele not being able to sing long enough? Only humans and birds can sing.

S: Well, tell us what happens when the banjolele cannot sing. Maybe that will help us figure it out.

C: She gets embarrassed and puts it away for a very very long time.

S: But then …

C: She finds it again and somehow it plays then and a whole song too. And finally Valerie and the banjolele can sing together.

S: And that is the “Somebody to Love” song, right?

C: Yep.

Caramel is reading Somebody to Love written by Valerie June and illustrated by Marcela Avelar.
Caramel is reading Somebody to Love written by Valerie June and illustrated by Marcela Avelar.

S: So the banjolele had a dream, a song to sing, but at the beginning it could not live up to its dreams. And nobody stood up for it, everyone made fun of it. Right?

C: Yes, but in the end, Valerie gave it another chance and they could sing together.

S: So what happened to the dream of the banjolele?

C: It became a reality. The banjolele became famous. And now people listen to it and Valerie sing together.

S: So what do you think the book is really about?

C: Dreams! You can have dreams and people do not always support you, but you can still hold on to them!

S: Yes, I think so!

C: Hmm, and it makes a lot more sense now, because at the end, there is a whole page listing proverbs about dreams from many different places. My favorite is the Mexican one, which is Soñar no cuesta nada. It means dreams don’t cost a thing.

S: I like that!

C: Yes. So dreaming does not cost you anything, so you can have as many dreams as you want, and some of them will come true as long as you believe in them.

S: I like that too!

C: At the end of the book there is a part where the author talks to the reader about Martin Luther King Jr. and his “I have a dream” speech.

S: What do you know about that speech?

C: I know it moves a lot of people and people should have listened to him more. But he does talk about dreaming for a better America.

S: And Valerie June says that as a black woman artist she learned the power of dreams from him. So she wrote this book to tell young bunnies all about having dreams and believing in them.

C: I think I understand the book much better now.

S: I think we both do. So how would you describe the book in three words?

C: Colorful, musical, and dreamy.

S: I like those words Caramel! So I think this is a good time to wrap up this review. What do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading Somebody to Love written by Valerie June and illustrated by Marcela Avelar and listening to the song with the same name. He recommends the book to all little bunnies who have a dream but are scared they won't be able to achieve it.
Caramel enjoyed reading Somebody to Love written by Valerie June and illustrated by Marcela Avelar and listening to the song with the same name. He recommends the book to all little bunnies who have a dream but are scared they won’t be able to achieve it.

Caramel reviews Somewhere, Right Now by Kerry Docherty

Today Caramel reviews Somewhere, Right Now, a 2022 picture book written by Kerry Docherty and illustrated by Suzie Mason. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

The book bunnies received this book as a review copy.

Caramel reviews Somewhere, Right Now, written by Kerry Docherty and illustrated by Suzie Mason.
Caramel reviews Somewhere, Right Now, written by Kerry Docherty and illustrated by Suzie Mason.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, tell us a bit about this book.

Caramel: This book is about a girl named Alma who is scared and then her mom helps her by making her think of some nice thing happening somewhere right now. Then her brother gets mad, and then Alma helps him the same way. Then the father is sad and then the mom is overwhelmed, and they all help one another, all the same way.

S: So it is about a family who has a lot of small disappointments through their day and they support each other through it all?

C: Yes, pretty much. And I really like how they do it. They think about how somewhere there is something nice going on.

S: So having some perspective about things, that life might be upsetting in some ways for you right now, but look at the big picture: somewhere something good is happening. It’s like that?

C: Yes. For example there is a happy giraffe and a mommy whale and a baby whale and so on.

S: So it is almost like a game, right? If you are not feeling good about your life right now, say you are sad or angry, or disappointed or something, you can think about something nice. I like the idea. Almost like Pollyanna and her glad game. So let us think about something happening somewhere right now that could help us smile.

C: In the book there is a baby horse learning to walk. That made me smile.

S: Yes, me too! But I want you to come up with something yourself. Can you imagine something like that that could help you feel better?

C: Okay, so I’ll “close my eyes and imagine that somewhere, right now” … a bunny is getting sleepy and snuggling near his mommy.

S: Hmm, I think I know exactly where that bunny is!

C: Yes you do. Sitting right next to you.

S: Okay. I think that our readers might find that smile-worthy. I do. Let me try too. I’ll “close my eyes and imagine that somewhere, right now” … there is a beautiful sunrise over a green bay.

C: I like that!

Caramel is reading Somewhere, Right Now, written by Kerry Docherty and illustrated by Suzie Mason.
Caramel is reading Somewhere, Right Now, written by Kerry Docherty and illustrated by Suzie Mason.

S: So what did you think about the illustrations in the book?

C: I think they are cute. I especially like the baby horse learning to walk.

S: True. This is a really sweet book all around. I also thought the family members looked like one another, but not completely. So they could really be a family, don’t you think?

C: Yes. I agree. And the girl Alma has a little brother Jack. Like Marshmallow has me.

S: Yes, that is true too. Did you know there is a song to accompany this book?

C: No! Can we listen to it?

S: Sure. I will also embed it here:

Somewhere, Right Now Song | Kindergarten and Preschool Songs – YouTube (posted by the publisher Penguin Kids).

S: The song makes me think of the times we have been stuck at home and got really bored and frustrated. At such times, we could have played the “somewhere, right now” game and imagine something good happening somewhere.

C: Now we can. Hey, I have another one! Somewhere, right now, I think a baby polar bear might be playing with his mommy. Or maybe sleeping next to her because it is actually kind of late.

S: I see you are trying to send me a signal Caramel.

C: Yes.

S: This book made me want to snuggle too. I think it is a very good book for snuggling with one’s favorite little bunny and reading together.

C: Yes. I think so too. How about we do just that?

S: I think we might. But before that, tell me three words to describe the book.

C: Colorful, happy, and sweet.

S: I agree with all three of your words Caramel! So let us wrap up this review then. What do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews! Oh and May the Fourth be with you!

Caramel enjoyed reading Somewhere, Right Now, written by Kerry Docherty and illustrated by Suzie Mason, and recommends it to all the little bunnies (and the big bunnies they read together with) for snuggle time.
Caramel enjoyed reading Somewhere, Right Now, written by Kerry Docherty and illustrated by Suzie Mason, and recommends it to all the little bunnies (and the big bunnies they read together with) for snuggle time.