Shelter (Céline Claire & Qin Leng)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Shelter by Céline Claire and Qin Leng, a lovely fable about kindness, generosity, and helping those in need.

A storm is coming, and all the animals of the forest are rushing to prepare. They fill their food stores, gather fuel for their fires, and secure themselves against the harsh weather, tucking into their homes just as the big storm hits. Outside, two young polar bear siblings approach, exposed to the elements. They knock on each door, asking for whatever food, shelter, or warmth can be spared, offering what little they have in return. Each family sends them away, protesting a shortage of resources (though they clearly have more than enough). The bears head toward an abandoned hill, hoping to make a hasty shelter, when Fox Cub calls out to them. He offers them a small lantern – not much, he apologizes, but it’s what he has. The polar bears thank him kindly, and after Fox Cub leaves, it begins to snow. The polar bears are heartened – this is something they know how to survive. Back at the Fox den, the heavy snowfall causes their roof to collapse. Turned out of their own home, they search for shelter, following a dim light to a pair of familiar faces who welcome them with open arms.

Simply beautiful. A moving story about why kindness and charity towards others makes entire communities stronger. This definitely reads as a metaphor for helping displaced refugees and/or the needy, and it’s an apt one, especially in the visual nods to the abundance of resources, and the fact that the bears appear to be relatively young orphans. It’s a tale about how our kindnesses, even small ones, are so often the thing that light our own way out of the dark. The art is gorgeous, with rich, detailed characters that bring real emotion and personality to each of the animals from head to toe. The length is great, and JJ and I both enjoyed it. A wonderful lesson for little ones, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

The Santa Corner (Jakie Rodriguez)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Santa Corner, written by Jakie Rodriguez and illustrated by Bee L. Hannah, a lesson in how children can celebrate Christmas kindness year-round.

Gracie and Meghyn are having a playdate at Gracie’s house. There are so many wonderful toys to play with, including a few tucked away in a corner. When Meghyn grabs a hula-hoop from the corner however, Gracie stops her, explaining that those toys are in her “Santa corner.” Never having heard of such a thing, Meghyn asks what it is, and Gracie and her mother explain: a Santa corner is a place where children can put toys that they no longer want or use. When the corner is full, Santa’s helpers collect the toys, fixing them up and giving them to less-fortunate children. When Meghyn returns home, she finds she has received a letter from Santa encouraging her to start her own Santa corner, and she decides to do just that!

While the book itself lacks a bit of polish, this is definitely an interesting concept to introduce to young readers. I myself had never heard of a Santa corner, but I like the intent: it encourages children to be generous and conscientious with their toys, and thoughtful of those who have less. In fact, I wish there had been more focus on this charitable aspect – perhaps a page explaining how donating toys can help people and bring joy to those without, and/or encouraging the donation of NEW toys as well, rather than just used ones that children have grown tired of themselves. The art is not terrible for an indie title; while the shading and colors are a bit garish, the characters are expressive and fit the story. The length is fine, and JJ mostly enjoyed it. Overall, this is a decent book that introduces a very promising concept to little ones, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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