The Story Blanket (Ferida Wolff & Harriet May Savitz)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Story Blanket, written by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz, and illustrated by Elena Odriozola, a tale of generosity and community.

In a small village in the snow-covered mountains – the nation is not identified, but context clues suggest somewhere in Eastern Europe – there lives an old woman named Babba Zarrah. The local children love to gather at Babba Zarrah’s home to hear her stories, cuddling together on a cozy blanket affectionately called “the story blanket”. One day, Babba Zarrah notices that one child, Nikolai, has a hole in his shoe. She resolves to make him a new pair of warm socks, but laments that she has no wool yarn. She decides to take a bit of wool from the story blanket, and secretly leaves the new socks on Nikolai’s doorstep. She then notices that the hardworking postman could use a new scarf, and the grocer’s shawl is threadbare, among others. Suddenly, mysterious knitted gifts are appearing at people’s homes, and the village children have noticed the story blanket getting smaller and smaller. What happens next is a lovely lesson in kindness and how caring for others is just another way to care for ourselves.

Simple yet sweet. While this appears to be an original story, it has the comforting feel of a classic folktale and makes for a gentle and heartwarming reading experience. The illustrations also have a rustic folk-art look about them, using thin lines and colorful textures to create often-humorous visuals. The cast all present as white with exaggerated features; it was nice to see some larger body types represented, though it’s unclear how realistic these are meant to be. The length is great for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed it overall. This one is humble in tone and execution, but no less edifying or enjoyable for 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.)

Thank You, Omu! (Oge Mora)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora, a beautiful modern tale of generosity and community.

Omu is delighted; the thick red stew she has been making is absolutely scrumptious, and she predicts that it will make the best dinner she’s ever had. Setting the meal to simmer, she takes a reading break before dinnertime, as the tempting scent of the delicious stew wafts out the window and down the city streets. Suddenly, Omu hears a knock on her door – the little boy from down the hall is curious about the incredible smell. As she has made plenty, she offers him a bowl; he gives his earnest thanks in return. Soon a parade of neighbors is stopping by, drawn by the scent of stew, and Omu kindly offers a portion to each of them. As the last guest leaves, it’s time for dinner – but Omu has given away every last drop of stew. Broken-hearted, she hears one last knock on the door, and finds a wonderful surprise behind it.

Heartwarming. Omu (the Igbo word for “queen”, and inspired by the author’s grandmother) represents a classic figure of selflessness, and Mora’s incredible collage-style illustrations do a wonderful job of filling her warmth, personality, and life. The art shines again and again, in fact: busy city streets are alive with unique characters, emotions play across features, and Omu’s stew looks incredibly tasty. This beautifully frames a pitch-perfect story of generosity, both from the perspective of Omu and of her grateful neighbors who show their thanks in a truly thoughtful way. The writing itself makes it a joy to read aloud, with various callbacks and repetitions that flow perfectly throughout. The length was great, and JJ adored it. This is a special book, with a simple yet evergreen message and art style that can be enjoyed for generations to come – Baby Bookworm approved!

Porcupine’s Pie (Laura Renauld)

Hello, friends! Sorry for our long hiatus, but we’re back! Our book today is Porcupine’s Pie, written by Laura Renauld and illustrated by Jennie Poh, a delightful tale of generosity and friendship.

Fall Feast Day is here, and Porcupine is prickled with excitement – she can’t wait to bake her famous Cranberry Pie for all her friends. Gathering her cranberries, she sets off to the river to wash them, running into her friend Squirrel along the way. Inquiring as to whether Squirrel will be making her famous Nut Bread, Porcupine is disappointed to hear that Squirrel is missing flour for her recipe – but not to worry! Porcupine has plenty in her kitchen, and tells Squirrel to help herself. Continuing on her journey, Porcupine also stops by Bear’s cave and Doe’s thicket, and finds they have similar predicaments – Bear is missing butter for his Honey Cake, and Doe lacks sugar for her Apple Tart. Again, Porcupine happily offers what she has. But when she arrives at the river to wash her berries, she makes a sad discovery: her cranberries have all fallen out along her way! Sadly returning home, she prepares to make a plain pie crust… but a knock at the door will show that good friends always return the kindness they are shown.

Wonderful. The classic, cozy story and timeless message, combined with some adorable fall-themed illustrations, make this a perfect autumn read. The text is warm and gentle without ever being too cutesy, and the characters are all marvelously endearing, especially the squat, spiny Porcupine. There’s even a recipe for Friendship Pie in the back for the culinary-inclined. The length was perfect, and JJ loved it. A charming fall read, 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.)

Be Thankful For What You Have (Miranda Mittleman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Be Thankful For What You Have, written by Miranda Mittleman and illustrated by iNDOS Studios, the third installment of the adorable Paws And Think! series.

Weaver the Dog is back with a new lesson in self-reflection for little readers. Weaver lives in a city with his family, and they love going on walks and trips together. One of Weaver’s favorite places to visit is the pet store, where the owner always gives him a treat, he can look at all the toys and bones, and even pick out a brand new plaything to take home with him. But as Weaver is leaving, he notices something new in the store: a crate with a rescue dog inside. Reflecting on all that he has when the rescue dog has nothing, Weaver decides to share his toy with the pup and offer words of encouragement, he being a rescue dog as well. Later at home, Weaver takes stock of all that he has to be thankful for – his home, his toys, and especially his family – and reminds himself that he doesn’t need new things to be happy when he already has so much.

Lovely. So far, the Paws & Think series has been one of our favorite independent series, and once again Weaver’s winning look and voice make him instantly likable. The story could have used slightly more stakes – perhaps Weaver could have been too greedy at the store – to draw focus to the lesson, but it still stands on its own, reminding kids of the importance of appreciating what they have and being generous to others who have less. The art is still some of the best we’ve seen in self-publishing, with adorable character design and a great sense of color and scale. I especially loved the detail of the dog in the pet store being a rescue – always, ALWAYS adopt, don’t shop! The length was great and JJ loved it. Another fine chapter to Weaver’s story, and we recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

May I Come In? (Marsha Diane Arnold)

Hello, friends! Our book today is May I Come In?, written by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrated by Jennie Poh, a sweet fable about the importance of kindness and hospitality.

When the thunderstorm hits Thistle Hollow, Raccoon is lucky enough to have a roof over his head – but no one to share it with. Too afraid to face the storm alone, he bundles up in scarf and umbrella and sets off to his friend Possum’s house. Sadly, Possum gently turns him away, saying that there just isn’t room. Raccoon pushes on to Quail and Woodchuck’s homes, but finds a similar answer at both. At last, he pushes through to knock on Rabbit’s door, but finding her inside with her 10 little ones, he is sure that she will not have room for him either. But Rabbit smiles and welcomes him in – there’s always room for a good friend. As Raccoon and the Rabbit family settle in for cozy companionship, they are surprised by another knock at the door – who could it be?

Wonderfully sweet. Adorable animals characters endear the reader to a story that encourages goodwill and generosity toward others. There was something quite lovely about the fact that Raccoon wasn’t seeking shelter from the storm, but connection; it shows that it’s okay to ask for help when you feel vulnerable, and the importance of offering that assistance to a friend if you are the one being asked. The text was easily read for the most part, though the rhythm – which switches between rhyme and straightforward – can be a little tripping. But the warm, cuddly art looks classic and feels homey. The length is good, and JJ really enjoyed it. A lovely tale of compassion and friendship, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!