Eleanor Wyatt, Princess And Pirate (Rachael MacFarlane)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Eleanor Wyatt, Princess And Pirate, written by Rachael MacFarlane and illustrated by Spencer Laudiero, a celebration of playing dress-up.

Eleanor Wyatt loves to pretend, often while dressing up from her seemingly limitless costume closet. And her play is never limited by traditional “gendered” costumes: as often as she chooses to be a princess or cheerleader, she easily switches to a pirate, astronaut, or superhero as the mood strikes her. Sometimes she will combine the characters, serving tea on her pirate ship or as a mustachioed cowboy riding a trusty unicorn steed (played ably by her enormous dog). Eleanor’s parents encourage her: there’s no “wrong” way to play. And in turn, Eleanor encourages her friends to join her in expressing themselves in whatever way feels right. After all, imagination is all about exploring new ways to be the person you were all along; to let your “inner light shine”.

Lovely! I am always delighted to see stories that encourage non-gendered playtime and dress-up, and this one was a delight. The story does a wonderful job of showing the benefits unrestricted play: Eleanor’s costumes help her build confidence and courage, such as dressing as a ninja to watch scary movies, and allow her to dream big as a rock star or pilot. And seeing her parade of friends – featuring a range of skin tones, genders, physical ability, and of course, costumes – shows that allowing freedom of expression creates a happier and more diverse world. The bouncy rhyming text is fun and easy to read, the illustrations are energetic and colorful, and the length is fine for younger bookworms. A charming tale with an important message, and we both loved 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.)

Harriet Gets Carries Away (Jessie Sima)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Harriet Gets Carries Away by Jessie Sima, an adorable fantasy about a little girl and her tendency to let her imagination run wild.

Harriet LOVES to play dress-up, and not just on Halloween. And she loves to wear costumes everywhere – to the dentist, to the park, and out in the city with her dads. On the day of her birthday (a costume party, naturally), Harriet’s dads take her to the store to get some food for the party and some party hats. Harriet dons her penguin costume – complete with smart red bow tie – and heads out with them after they give her a gentle warning: “Don’t get carried away”. But while at the store, Harriet wanders off… and finds a whole army of real penguins in the frozen section! She follows them to their hot air balloons, where she gets mixed up in the shuffle and ends up carried away to the South Pole! What follows is an adventure where Harriet gets carried away by a few more new friends. Will she be able to get back to the city in time for her party, and before her dads notice that she’s gone?

So cute. A fun ode to a child’s imagination, and how they have the ability to create entire grand adventures from a single spark of inspiration. The story itself is a gentle yet exciting adventure, and little readers will love following along. The art is adorable, using a mostly rosy/purple palette to create a warm sense of fun and wonderful endearing characters. Even the details are a treat: the casual inclusion of a multiracial LGBTQ family, the final gag showing that Harriet is not alone her imaginative tendencies, even the clever plays on the term “carried away” – it all adds up to a joyful little read. The length was great, JJ loved it, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!