Impossible Moon (Breanna J. McDaniel)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Impossible Moon, written by Breanna J. McDaniel and illustrated by Tonya Engel, a beautiful fable of perseverance and hope.

Mable’s Grana used to be the most wonderful storyteller, but these days she is often too weak to even sit up in bed. She still smiles, but it seems impossible that Grana might ever get better, or be able to weave her magical tales again. One night, as Mable maps constellations while keeping Grana company, the older woman opines: “If we can touch the moon, then what is impossible?” Inspired by her Grana’s musing, Mable peers at the moon later that night, feeling it call to her. Suddenly, her mattress is a trampoline and her bedsheets are wings, and Mable finds herself soaring into the night sky on an adventure that will lead her through the stars.

Stunning. This gorgeous title blends a compelling and nuanced narrative that dares to make some bold choices, with majestic artwork that blends fantasy, astronomy, astrology, and black culture. Mable is a solidly constructed character from the start: a brilliant young science-lover with curiosity and courage, and following her journey as a reader is wonderful. Oftentimes the plot of picture books can be fairly predictable, but McDaniel takes a chance on telling an entirely unique story, emphasizing family, love, determination, and even the scientific process over the tidier ending. Combined with Engel’s sweeping acrylic paintings, it makes for a magical journey with a grounded lesson: life isn’t always easy, but we should never give up on our dreams, or on the people who love us. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ and I both loved it. Absolutely fantastic, and Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Goodnight, Constellations (Rachel McAlister)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Goodnight, Constellations by Rachel McAlister, a toddler’s primer to some of the most recognizable constellations of the Western sky.

Each two-page spread of this simple board book presents a new constellation; on one side, the constellation is shown as it appears in the night sky, and on the opposite, with a sweet and child-friendly overlay of the character it represents. Minimal text describes each character in suitably bedtime-related fashion: Orion’s bow shoots a shower of stars across the sky, Ursa Major and Minor cuddle in for snuggly bear dreams, Leo the Lion lays down his sleepy head. By the end, each constellation is tucked in for cozy dreams, and so will be your little one.

This sweet little book is a nice primer for constellations, best suitable for the youngest bookworms. There’s not a lot of high-concept information here: no descriptions of what constellations are or how they are named, no astronomical science, and even the “stories” attributed to each illustrated character is fairly benign (especially Cassiopeia, who receives an extremely watered-down explanation of what her stars represent). But this fits the soothing tone of the artwork and text well, and makes for a nice way to introduce the idea of constellations through a calming nighttime read. The length is perfect for the littlest bookworm, and JJ loved the simple yet charming artwork. This was a great way to start learning about heavenly bodies, and we really enjoyed it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Discover Our Solar System (Colin Stuart)

Hello, friends! Our book today Discover Our Solar System, written by Colin Stuart and illustrated by Charlie Brandon-King, a rich compendium of science for young astronomers.

With an introduction that compares life on Earth to the scope of the celestial bodies in the universe around us, Stuart and Brandon-King then lead the reader on a journey across our solar system. Beginning at our Sun and traveling through each of the planets, ice belts, dwarf planets, moons, and more, each body is given a two-page spread filled with illustrations, detailed specifications, and fun facts to pour over. Also detailed is the science of how we study these wonders of space, including information on the Big Bang, space stations, craft, and the future of space exploration.

Educational and fun! Well-designed pages give STEM-minded readers hours of information to absorb, yet lays it out in a way that doesn’t overwhelm or confuse. The artwork ranges from highly technical to sweet and simple to awe-inspiring, adapting to the intended tone each subject or topic nicely. This isn’t a book for a single sitting at any age, but young kids like JJ will enjoy the illustrations, and older bookworms – especially those with a passion for space – will devour every page. A wonderful tome for young astronomers, or anyone who wants to learn more about the magic of the solar system that surrounds them. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Sleepy Solar System (Dr. John Hutton)

Hello, friends! Today, we read Sleepy Solar System, written by Dr. John Hutton and illustrated by Doug Cenko, an astronomical bedtime story that takes us on a journey through the solar system.

It’s been a very busy day in the Milky Way, and Sun tells everyone that it’s time for bed. One by one, the planets tuck in for bed. Mercury has been spinning at a dizzying pace, and is ready for a rest. Mother Earth has on her blue-and-green jammies, with white clouds up in curlers. Uranus reads a story, and teeny Pluto asks for one more hug and kiss. Then all the planets settle in for a good night’s sleep.

This one left me with mixed feelings. For every bit that I liked, there was also something that was disappointing. Among the pluses, this is a very different take on the bedtime story, and filled with some great information about the plants in our solar system. The illustrations are exceedingly cute, and filled with great details. However, the rhyme scheme of the text was very inconsistent, which made it difficult to find a rhythm when reading aloud. And while the length was fine for a bedtime story, JJ wasn’t as excited about this one as she tends to be. I should also mention that other reviews have pointed out minor scientific errors, but that’s best left to reader discretion; most of the inaccuracies are fairly trifling, considering the entire premise of the book is scientifically impossible (how can an entire planet have “night” at once?) and meant in good fun, rather than purely educational. Overall, this was a neat introduction to the planets for little astronomers, but ultimately lackluster. Still, the original concept and adorable art alone is enough for us to call this one Baby Bookworm approved!