Wendell The Narwhal (Emily Dove)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Wendell The Narwhal by Emily Dove, a story about finding your talents and working together.

Wendell the narwhal has only one wish: to make beautiful music. His only problem is that the most melodious sound he can manage with his tusk is a flat “tap-tap” noise when he hits it against a rock. It’s a bummer, because all his friends can make beautiful noises: the whale sings, the jellyfish go “wubba-wub”, the octopus can pop his tentacles, etc. However, when all those sounds are going at once, they all drown each other out, and it becomes one loud cacophony! Wendell taps his tusk on the rock, calling them to order and silencing the lot. Then it’s TOO quiet. Wendell begins to take off, sorry to have interrupted his friends’ fun, but they quickly stop him. In fact, they might have the perfect position in their undersea orchestra for Wendell, one that could help his musical dreams come true.

Very sweet. There a few great lessons to be learned here, all of them wonderful for little readers: we all have our own special talents to share, that finding them may take a little practice and luck, and that working together and supporting each other is how we make beautiful music. The art is absolutely adorable, and the use of onomatopoeia as visual elements in the illustrations works well to infuse tension – plus, they’re mighty fun to sound out. The length was good, and JJ particularly liked this one. A sweet story with a lovely message, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Not Quite Narwhal (Jessie Sima)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is the lovely and touching Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima, a story about a little “narwhal” learning about himself and the meaning of family.

Kelp was born under the ocean, but isn’t quite like the other narwhals: his tusk isn’t as long, and he’s not quite as strong a swimmer. Still, he loves his home and his friends, who always make him feel safe and loved. But one day, a strong current sweeps Kelp away from his home. He ends up near an island, where he sees a fabulous creature that looks just like him! He learns that the animal is called a unicorn, and he is one too! The unicorns welcome him gladly, and teach him more about being a unicorn. Yet while Kelp is happy to be with unicorns like him, he misses his narwhal friends in the ocean. Kelp is caught between two worlds – which should he choose?

We LOVED this one. The story was wonderfully sweet, and had a lot of great humor. The illustrations are just adorable, full of colors and charming characters that JJ went crazy over, and the length is perfect. But best of all is the message: there’s nothing wrong with being different, even from your own family. Kelp’s experiences with the narwhals and unicorns can especially be read as a touching allegory for being LGBTQ or adopted, with both communities loving him, even his connection to each bringing the two groups together to bond. It’s a great way to show children that with supportive friends and family, being different can be the very thing that makes you special. It’s a wonderful story wonderfully told, and we loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!