The Monsters on the Broom (Annemarie Riley Guertin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Monsters on the Broom, written by Annemarie Riley Guertin and illustrated by Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn, a cute, melodic, Halloween-themed board book.

It’s Halloween night, and monsters are afoot! Metered to the classic rhythm of “Wheels on the Bus,” little readers can cackle, howl, and groan along with witches, werewolves, and mummies as they fly past on an enchanted broom.

Basic but fun. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking here – simple lyrics twist a familiar nursery rhyme with spooky (but not scary) festive friends. There’s some cutouts on the top edge of the pages that give this board book a little personality, but no interactive elements, or really even a plot line. However, with some colorful and cute characters and a widely accessible concept, it’s not without its charms. The length is fine for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed it. As far as Halloween board book fare goes, this is a fine choice – perhaps not destined to be an annual classic, but certainly a quick and fun way to celebrate. Overall, Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Happy Unicorn & Sad Unicorn (Clever Publishing & Samara Hardy)

Hello, friends! Our books today are Happy Unicorn and Sad Unicorn by Clever Publishing and Samara Hardy, the first two titles in the First Feelings series of board books for toddlers.

What can make you happy? What can make you sad? And what can make you feel better? These are the three basic concepts explored through the adventures of Unicorn and her band of animal buddies. Happy Unicorn has a fairly straightforward plot, simply listing things that typically make one happy, such as playing with friends or eating yummy foods. Sad Unicorn expands on this by not only presenting situations that can make us sad – such as disappointing weather or getting a boo-boo – but also ways in which we can help ourselves or others feel better when they’re down.

Fantastic. When it comes to emotional development board boards geared at toddlers, simplicity and entertainment are key, and this series has both. Unicorn and their pals are adorably illustrated with bright colors and expressive design by Hardy, and the scenes and interactive elements are well-utilized to engage the youngest of bookworms. The messages about emotions are similarly noncomplex, yet also encourage healthy emotional management, such as encouraging readers to talk about their negative feelings and consider the emotions of others when interacting with them (for instance, several times, when JJ saw Unicorn supporting a sad friend, she remarked how kind Unicorn was being). The length of each book is perfect for a quick read, and we liked these immensely. Overall, a great way to explore emotions for little ones, and we highly recommend them – Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: Copies of these books were provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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.)

VIP: Very Important Preschooler (Cindy Jin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is VIP: Very Important Preschooler, written by Cindy Jin and illustrated by Ella Bailey, a sweet instruction manual for little ones entering their first classroom.

A group of five preschoolers welcome the reader to their classroom, where they are all VIPs: Very Important Preschoolers. Each day of the week, a different kid from the class acts as their teacher’s special helper, greeting classmates at the door, helping to set up and pass out supplies, acting as line leader, and so on. While each child gets a turn at being the special helper, they all emphasize the importance of teamwork and cooperation.

Short, sweet, and packed with cheerful encouragement. For little ones who are entering their first classroom environments this year, it can be helpful to explore not only the activities and relationships they can look forward to, but also their responsibilities to their teacher and classmates. This neat little board book helps introduce little ones to concepts like line leaders, cleanup leaders, or recess helpers, where they will be expected to act as authority figures and as a community, often for the first time. This is not a comprehensive look at starting preschool for the first time, but does explore a theme that most picture books on the topic do not, and quite well. Bailey’s classroom is charming and her characters diverse, the length is great for a quick read, and JJ enjoyed it. A good one to add to the list for preschool preparation, and we recommend 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.)

Hello Sacred Life & Hello Sacred Creatures (Kim Krans)

Hello, friends! Our books today are Hello Sacred Life and Hello Sacred Creatures by Kim Krans, a set of mystic-themed board books that explore the wonders of the natural world.

Hello, sacred honey bee. Hello, sacred sun. Using simple salutatory phrases and strikingly vivid artwork, this set of board books takes a peaceful journey through nature for the youngest of bookworms. In Hello Sacred Life, readers greet elemental facets of nature, such as the moon, water, fire, darkness, and light. In Hello Sacred Creatures, readers meet a number of beautiful creatures of the earth, like giraffes, penguins, hummingbirds, and polar bears.

Very pretty. Known for her popular The Wild Unknown series of artwork and oracle decks, Krans uses her style of highly-detailed line illustrations over riotously brilliant watercolor backgrounds to create a visual treat for readers young and old. While the text is not particularly substantive, the art is engaging and rich, and feels very unique to the genre. For families whose spirituality leans towards the natural world, these titles will be especially valuable, as both emphasize the sanctity of nature. One quibble: the back cover description of Sacred Creatures describes the featured species as “endangered,” though only a fragment of them are actually classified as such; it’s slightly misleading, especially for those who might be in search of titles that cover endangered or threatened species. Otherwise, these are beautiful and vibrant books that little ones will enjoy; the lengths are perfect for very quick storytimes, and JJ liked them both a lot. We absolutely recommend them – Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of these books were provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)