Thursday (Ann Bonwill)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Thursday, written by Ann Bonwill and illustrated by Kayla Harren, a moving look at trauma, healing, and friendship.

“They told her on a Thursday.” Prior to her parents breaking the news of their divorce to the unnamed little girl protagonist, Thursday was her favorite day of the week. But after that fateful Thursday, everything was be different: a new school, two new bedrooms, and a whole lot of change. Overwhelmed and scared of what’s to come, the little girl feels like she’s melting. That’s why the narrator came to stay for a while – to be a friend when the little girl needed them most.

A beautiful and touching exploration of how children process trauma. Told from an unusual point of view – and one I won’t give away here, because the slow reveal is part of the story’s flawless construction – Bonwill weaves a challenging yet affirming story of how children deal with trauma, and how both those around them and they themselves can help the healing process. Bonwill’s text is simple yet extremely heartfelt, and offers actionable strategies in addition to empathetic words. Harren’s atmospheric illustrations tell so much story themselves, filled as they are with incredible details and deep emotion of their own. There’s also some great representations of diversity, including a tattooed/pierced educator of color that made my day (yay for body diversity). The length is good for a storytime, but this is a book that is best for slow consideration and discussion, and/or for kids going through tough times who need to feel seen. Overall, a truly affecting picture book that we highly recommend – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

A Home Again (Colleen Rowan Kosinski)

Hello, friends! Our book today is A Home Again, written by Colleen Rowan Kosinski and illustrated by Valeria Docampo, a gorgeous meditation on love, loss, hope, and family.

A brand new house eagerly awaits its new owners, and once the family of six (including kitty and baby-to-be) arrive, the house relishes the sounds and smells that fill its once-empty rooms. It delights in watching the family grow and in being such an integral part of their memories, of being cared for and loved. The house is more than a house, it is a home… until the family must move away. Hurt and confused, the house pushes away prospective new owners by making itself creak or lose shingles in their presence, resulting in its sitting empty and alone for a long time. At last, a couple arrives and sees the house’s potential. It tries to push them away as it did the others, but the couple is determined, and they slowly bring the house back to good condition with work and care. And against all odds, the house begins to hope once more to be part of a family… to be a home.

Gorgeous and moving. The concept of what makes a house versus what makes a home is explored wonderfully through the emotional, earnest text and stunning artwork, and that alone makes this a book worth reading, especially for families in the midst of their own transition between homes. What makes this book truly remarkable, however, are the themes of loss, grief, trauma, and healing hidden within the house’s story. The hurt of being left behind by its first family is palpable, as is it’s desire to push away others. Yet the repetition and quiet persistence of the second couple (who are also a wonderfully subtle example of LGBTQ+ representation) reflect how healing begins with letting in those who would care for you. It’s an absolutely beautiful parallel and makes for an extraordinarily layered narrative. In addition, the length is great for a quick storytime, and JJ loved it. This one has all the elements of a great picture book, and we can’t recommend it enough. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Pandora (Victoria Turnbull)

Hello, friends! Moving update: we’re out of our old house and into our new one soon, so hopefully we shouldn’t be missing too many reviews in the near future. For today, we’re back! And we’re reviewing a new favorite: Pandora by Victoria Turnbull, a gorgeously illustrated fairytale about the power of kindness and friendship.

Pandora lives all alone in a land of broken things. She uses her cleverness and ingenuity to build a cozy home and fix lost treasures, but she is still lonely. One day, a small bluebird injures itself nearby, and Pandora takes the little bird in. Pandora does her best to mend the broken bird as she does her treasures, giving it lots of love and gentleness to recuperate. In that time, the two grow close, and when the bird is healthy enough to fly away, it always returns with treasures from far-off lands, fixing them into a nest as a gift for Pandora. One day, the bird doesn’t return, and Pandora is broken-hearted. Having lost her only friend, she retreats to her bed and despairs. But when she wakes one sunny morning, she finds that once the seeds of friendship are planted and nourished, they will grow – and that it may take a while, but true friends always find their way back home.

This is a stunning story that uses lovely, soothing art and simple text to cover some surprisingly advanced ideas. It’s a beautiful fable for young ones, but older readers will recognize subtle themes like depression, hope, and healing within the story’s message of friendship and kindness being returned to those who give it. It’s surprisingly powerful, especially with art that conveys these emotions as much as it does the story being told. The length is perfect, and JJ always enjoys her “foxsh and bird.” A moving tale for all ages, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Sammy’s Broken Leg (Oh No!) And The Amazing Cast That Fixed It (Judith Wolf Mandell)

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

Hello, everybody! Today’s book is Sammy’s Broken Leg (Oh No!) And The Amazing Cast That Fixed It, written by Judith Wolf Mandell and illustrated by Lise C. Brown, an uplifting story about injury and recovery from the perspective of a little one.

Inspired by the author’s granddaughter, the story opens on Sammy, a little girl who loves to run and play. When she takes a tumble off of her trampoline one day, she has to be rushed to the hospital, and wakes up to an unpleasant surprise: she has broken her “thigh bone,” and must be in a huge cast for weeks! The cast keeps her from doing many of the things she loves, and it’s very uncomfortable. But Sammy knows that the cast holds a secret: inside are the kisses and love of her family and friends, all whispering encouragement and helping her bone to heal.

This was a neat little indie book that fills a very specific need. Injuries can be tough and stressful for children, especially when each day of recovery can feel like weeks. This story can help to foster patience and understanding with little ones who are experiencing this for themselves. I liked that it set fairly realistic expectations for kids: healing takes time, and even after Sammy’s cast is off, she has to work to strengthen her atrophied muscles. Also nice was the way it framed the cast itself in a positive light; rather than being a restrictive prison, it is actually a symbol of the love and well-wishes Sammy’s family has for her. The illustrations are not as polished as one might see in mass market kidlit, but it’s delightful nonetheless, filled with color, emotion and detail that shows a passion for the story. The length is stretching it a bit for baby bookworms, but JJ didn’t seem to mind. Overall, this would be great for helping a little one through their own “Oh no!” injury, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!