Whale In A Fishbowl (Troy Howell & Richard Jones)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Whale In A Fishbowl by Troy Howell and Richard Jones, the sweet fable of a whale named Wednesday.

Wednesday is a whale, so named because she is at the center of everything. She lives in a giant fishbowl in a city center, surrounded by speeding cars and bustling crowds, all covered in grayish smog. She has rocks and plants and food, but it still doesn’t feel quite right – she yearns for a life beyond her bowl, and for the glimpses of a vast, perfect blue she can see in the distance when she jumps into the air. One day, a little girl named Piper comes to see Wednesday, and as they look at one another, Wednesday feels a connection to the familiar blue of the girl’s eyes. Piper introduces herself, and leaves Wednesday with a cryptic thought to ponder: “You don’t belong in there.” Turning over the words in her head, Wednesday begins to believe more and more that the blue is where she needs to be, and puts all her effort into one last break for freedom.

Hauntingly beautiful. I love these sorts of stories for children because the story itself is clear and easily-followed, but it allows for multiple interpretations as to its meaning. Is it a lesson in believing in your dreams? Following your heart? Having the courage to explore the unknown? Perhaps a meditation on captivity of animals, or even of people (a timely issue)? It’s the sort of story that inspires kids and adults to think, consider, and discuss afterwards, and that’s awesome. The art compliments the story perfectly, using color, tone, and the abundance, then absence, of energy to connect to audience to Wednesday’s emotions. The length is great, and JJ seemed spellbound. This is a gorgeous book in art, language, and story, and will give bookworms of any age lots to think about. Baby Bookworm approved!

Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color (Julia Denos)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color by Julia Denos, the story of a color whisperer learning a lesson about the importance of freedom.

Swatch is a little girl who loves colors, and the colors love her right back. They bend and twist and dance around her, and she wrangles them with her sweet demeanor and wild energy. She hunts the most vivid shades when she can: Bravest Green only appears in the first week of March, and In-Between Gray resides on her kitten’s leg. The colors come and go freely, until Swatch decides to capture Just-Laid Blue in a jar. She begins to collect all her colors in jars, and while they still love Swatch, they begin to grow restless without room to roam and dance as they once did. At last, Swatch hunts down Yellowest Yellow, the first color to ask what she intends on doing. When Swatch describes life in a jar, Yellow politely declines – that’s no life for it. Swatch understands, and watches as Yellow grows and twists into a giant, magical beast and Swatch, realizing her mistake, calls to her colors to free themselves from their jars and fly free once again.

Charming and magical. Swatch and her colors explode from each page with bright, joyous energy, creating a modern fairytale world that feels like a window into a child’s imagination. And while the art pulls plenty of focus, the text holds its own with a sure, whimsical yet exhilarating storyline. And the lesson is timeless: to love something is to let it be free to be itself. JJ went wild for the art, and the length was just right. A lovely fable for any fan of color, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!