Stella, Star Explorer (Kelly Leigh Miller)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Stella, Star Explorer by Kelly Leigh Miller, a trip through our solar system that combines practical knowledge and new perspectives (as well as a few laughs) along the way.

Stella LOVES space. She dreams of exploring the cosmos, the galaxies, and of any planet in the universe… except, that is, for dirty, boring old Earth. Deciding she needs a change, Stella and her dog don their spacesuits, say goodbye to Stella’s parents, and blast off on an interplanetary adventure. It doesn’t take long before she makes a new friend: a green, seven-limbed fellow explorer named Io and his purple snake/cat pet Mimas. The pair have gotten lost looking for a very special planet, but Io cannot remember its name! Determined to help, Stella takes him on a tour of the solar system to help narrow the search – but is surprised to find that his destination is a familiar one!

A wonderful mix of fact and fun. Stella’s tour of the solar system does a great job of incorporating true factoids about each of the planets while also providing simple comedy that engages young readers. Best of all, the ending of the story really brings home a nice lesson on appreciating the things we have – especially our own fascinating, unique, and special planet – with a continued thirst for exploration and knowledge. Miller’s cartoonish illustrations are wonderful, with colorful and detailed settings and characters both land-based and intergalactic. Diverse representation is nicely integrated – Stella is coded as East Asian, her caregivers present as a queer, mixed-race family, and other background characters reflect a small variety of skintones, body types, and hair textures. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved the adorable artwork and uplifting story. Overall, this one is a treat, and we really enjoyed 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.)

I Love My Fur! (Kelly Leigh Miller)

Hello, friends! We’re wrapping up spooky season this year with our last Halloween-inspired review: I Love My Fur! by Kelly Leigh Miller, a clever and hair-raising tale about humility.

Taking place in the same monster- and cryptid-filled classroom of Miller’s previous work, I Love My Fangs!, this title centers around young Bigfoot, a creature of head-to-toe hair. After receiving some lovely compliments on their lustrous locks, Bigfoot begins to develop quite the ego, attempting to turn all conversations to their fur and offering unsolicited advice on how others can achieve such beautiful long hair. Bigfoot even refuses to get a furcut, leading the hair to grow to lengths that are disruptive and cumbersome to the other kids in class. At last, Bigfoot begins to realize that their hair is actually keeping friends away, as is their behavior regarding it. Fortunately, this clever cryptid knows just what to do.

Delightful. First, as fans of I Love My Fangs!, it was awesome to get a closer look at the mythical creature elementary class briefly glimpsed in that title. Once again, Miller adds subtle and wonderfully clever details and visual gags that make the classroom scenes a treat for readers of all ages, such as the gorgon child wearing sunglasses or little Dracula reading about teeth. And the concise, conversational dialogue does double duty, using approachable language to explore topics like narcissism and self-centeredness in a way that younger readers can connect and empathize with. I was also pleased by how Bigfoot is never explicitly gendered – it’s a subtle choice but an important one when talking about self-image. It’s very well done, and a fun read to boot. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved it, especially the large and easy-to-read print. A spooky story with a great message, and we liked 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.)

I Love My Fangs! (Kelly Leigh Miller)

Hello friends, and Happy Halloween! Our book today is I Love My Fangs! by Kelly Leigh Miller, a monstrously enjoyable tale of toothy terror.

Little Dracula positively loves his fangs! They’re sharp and pointy, wonderfully useful, and part of his vampire heritage. He does his best to take good care of his fangs every day… until the day that one falls out! Panicking, Dracula tries to stick, tie, and tape his fang back into place, but to no avail. Sadly heading to bed (coffin), he is shocked to wake and find a fairy STEALING his FANG! The following chase through the house is stopped by Dracula’s parents, who introduce the Tooth Fairy and explain her aim. But will little Drac be able to let his beloved fang go?

Frightfully fun. A monster-mash-up of spooky characters puts a new spin on the very relatable theme of losing baby teeth and the nerves it can inspire. From there, details such as Dracula’s monstrous classmates (a delightful class photo is included on the back dust cover), his hooded bat pajamas, and creeptastic bedroom fill the story with tons of classic yet bloodless horror charm. The artwork work and text work together delightfully, using comic-book style dialogue and frames to tell a brisk and entertaining story in a economic yet exciting style. The length is perfect, and JJ loved the silly (not scary) vampire tale. This one is perfect for Halloween, but will also make a valuable resource for little monsters who may be nervous about losing their own teeth. Baby Bookworm approved!

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