Masha Munching (Amalia Hoffman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Masha Munching by Amalia Hoffman, a hilarious tale of table manners.

Masha the goat and her barnyard friends love nothing more than to share their meals. Every breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Masha and her pals chomp on hay, gnaw on tree branches, and slurp up water. Yet Masha is feeling a little tired of the same menu day after day. She puts on her fanciest dress and decides to explore other types of food, leaving her friends at the farm with a promise to return. Down the road, she discovers a fancy restaurant run by a penguin named Monsieur Pierre, and she is excited to try his menu du jour. However, there may be a miscommunication as to exactly what is on that menu…

A delightful romp. I can honestly say, I did not see the twist of this story coming, and when it did, it had me and JJ in absolute stitches. Hoffman uses repetition and well-paced comedic timing to tell a comedy of manners that young readers will love. The hand-drawn paper-cut artwork makes for unique and somewhat folksy visuals, but never feels flat or boring. The length is great for any storytime, and JJ had a blast with this one, especially Monsieur Pierre’s comical outbursts. An enjoyably absurd story, and a real treat – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Karate Kid (Rosanne L. Kurstedt)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Karate Kid, written by Rosanne L. Kurstedt and illustrated by Mark Chambers, a delightful introduction to the vernacular and practice of karate.

A spiritual sequel to the entertaining Yoga Frog (which features the same illustrator and a different author), this entertaining mini-manual follows Goat, a literal “karate kid”, through his karate class. Beginning with rituals that display respect for the past masters, his teacher and his fellow students, Goat practices his various strikes, kicks, blocks, and stances, learning both the form and the language of each new skill.

Like Yoga Frog before it, this clever little book does a nice job of balancing a respectful look at a practice’s cultural roots in a kid-friendly way for young readers. Each element of karate that’s covered – from the rituals of respect to the traditional garb to the various movements – are accompanied by the Japanese translation (phonetic, not kanji). This is an especially great detail for young students of the discipline, as most dojos encourage learning the traditional terminology. The illustrations, which feature Goat and his sensei on single-color backgrounds, are charming, though occasionally limiting; movement in particular is difficult to portray, and certain kicks or strikes may require more research. Still, a robust afterward provides plenty of resources for further learning. The length is great, and JJ and I had a ton of fun with this one. A fantastic companion or introduction for little readers interested in karate, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

A Unicorn Named Sparkle (Amy Young)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young, a silly yet sweet story of friendship, responsibility, and the bond between a girl and her unicorn.

Lucy finds the advertisement – 25¢ for a unicorn – and dashes off to mail in her quarter. While she waits for her new friend to arrive, she decides to name him Sparkle, and plans all the amazing things they’ll do: going for rides, braiding his pink mane, and taking him to show and tell. But when Sparkle arrives, he’s not quite what Lucy had imagined. He’s smaller, for one; he smells and has fleas for another. He won’t let her ride him, and he eats the flowers and tutu she puts on him. Frustrated, she decides to send her troublesome pet back… but will she have the heart to say goodbye?

This was a great little story! It’s a funny tale on the surface (Sparkle is, quite obviously, a goat), but it carries a great message about pet ownership and friendship in general: when Sparkle doesn’t live up to Lucy’s idealization of a “unicorn,” she is quick to dismiss him. However, after forming a bond with him, finding the things she likes about him, and ultimately seeing how broken-hearted he is to be sent away, she realizes that even though he’s not perfect, Sparkle loves her and she loves him. It’s a great metaphor about being a good friend despite imperfections, and being responsible for creatures you’ve promised to care for, and I loved it. The illustrations are charming and funny, the length is great, and JJ adored it. All in all a winner, especially for those who would enjoy a different sort of unicorn story. Baby Bookworm approved!