Impossible Moon (Breanna J. McDaniel)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Impossible Moon, written by Breanna J. McDaniel and illustrated by Tonya Engel, a beautiful fable of perseverance and hope.

Mable’s Grana used to be the most wonderful storyteller, but these days she is often too weak to even sit up in bed. She still smiles, but it seems impossible that Grana might ever get better, or be able to weave her magical tales again. One night, as Mable maps constellations while keeping Grana company, the older woman opines: “If we can touch the moon, then what is impossible?” Inspired by her Grana’s musing, Mable peers at the moon later that night, feeling it call to her. Suddenly, her mattress is a trampoline and her bedsheets are wings, and Mable finds herself soaring into the night sky on an adventure that will lead her through the stars.

Stunning. This gorgeous title blends a compelling and nuanced narrative that dares to make some bold choices, with majestic artwork that blends fantasy, astronomy, astrology, and black culture. Mable is a solidly constructed character from the start: a brilliant young science-lover with curiosity and courage, and following her journey as a reader is wonderful. Oftentimes the plot of picture books can be fairly predictable, but McDaniel takes a chance on telling an entirely unique story, emphasizing family, love, determination, and even the scientific process over the tidier ending. Combined with Engel’s sweeping acrylic paintings, it makes for a magical journey with a grounded lesson: life isn’t always easy, but we should never give up on our dreams, or on the people who love us. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ and I both loved it. Absolutely fantastic, and Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention (Pip Jones)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention, written by Pip Jones and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie, a clever tale of one ingenious girl.

Izzy Gizmo and her pet bird Fixer are working on her newest invention one day (a So-Sew to mend clothes), when an invitation arrives in the mail. Izzy has been invited to the Invention Convention, a contest amongst young inventors held on the ingeniously-engineered Technoff Isle. The Professor and Mick Marvel challenge Izzy and her four competitors to come up with an impressive invention, and while Izzy is gung-ho, her quests for tools and supplies are thwarted at every turn by the pompous and unsportsmanlike Abi von Lavish. Her frustrations lead to a string of failed inventions and engineering hurdles, and she even gets so frustrated that she lashes out at Fixer. But with sage advice from her Grandpa, an apology to her friend, and a spark of inspiration, Izzy’s gizmo may just win the day.

Very cute. While this title is a follow-up to Izzy’s 2017 debut, this is our first encounter with the young inventor, and we enjoyed it immensely. Much like Andrea Beaty’s Rosie Revere – a perennial favorite in our household- Izzy is both admirably brilliant yet emotionally relatable (in fact, Ogilvie’s exuberant artwork, filled with madcap energy and meticulous details, also shares a spirit with Rosie’s other creator, David Roberts; the girls would be good friends, I imagine). What’s more, Izzy wants to do well and play fair, and facing adversity on her efforts, she redirects and perseveres without compromising her beliefs – a great lesson for kiddos. The rhymes can occasionally have a tricky rhythm, but are mostly fun to read aloud, and JJ enjoyed the colorful and detailed artwork. This is a sweet story with a myriad of themes, and we liked it a lot! Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Yellow Kayak (Nina Laden & Melissa Castrillon)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Yellow Kayak by Nina Laden and Melissa Castrillon, a lovely fable about having courage through the storm.

A child and a giraffe set out from their small island in a tiny wooden kayak, expecting a day of adventure. As they get further out to sea, however, the adventure soon becomes more than they had bargained for: the sky grows dark, the wind whips up, and the seas become rocky. Their paddle and the child’s hat are swept away, and when the wind dies down, they are left stranded in the open sea. Still, they have each other, and they share the comfort of their company and the wonder of the starry sky through the night. The next day, the helpers begin to arrive – sea creatures bring back the lost items and help to guide them home.

Hopeful and sweet. While the rhyming text is subtle and spare – using only a few words per page to convey plot and set mood – it combines beautifully with the rich, detailed illustrations to tell a compelling story about courage and perseverance. The whole story itself reads as an allegory for surviving disaster, either literal or metaphorical – when the storm becomes frightening, the seafarers stay calm and keep their heads; when they are feeling lost and unsure of what to do next, they take care of each other and find hope in simple blessings; and at last, they use a combination of the help offered to them and their own persistence to find their way. It’s a powerful metaphor told in a gentle, comforting style, and we loved it. The length is just fine, and JJ loved the beautiful art, so this one is definitely Baby Bookworm approved!

Three Little Words (Amy Novesky)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is Three Little Words, written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Grace Lee, a sweet tie-in picture book to the Pixar movie Finding Dory about perseverance.

Life can be rough sometimes. Sometimes the journey is long, and you don’t exactly know where it will end. Sometimes you will come to a crossroads; always look both ways, but then move forward. Sometimes you will be alone; have courage. Sometimes you will be with friends; treasure it and enjoy yourself! Sometimes your path will be hard, and sometimes it will be scary. Just remember this: keep good friends close, and rely on them when you need to. Try to be brave, and never give up. And in the end, all you need to remember are three little words: just keep swimming.

This was really a lovely book, and not at all what I was expecting from a movie tie-in (books which, let’s face it, can sometimes be a bit lazy). While the illustrations and text very abstractly follow the plot of Finding Dory, the core of the book is a lesson in optimism, perseverance, and courage. It has the same feel as books like Oh, The Places You’ll Go! or The Wonderful Things You Will Be, offering broad life advice that can apply to children of any age (yes, this would be a lovely grad gift for a Disney fan). The illustrations are sweet, soothing and gentle, capturing the familiar characters of Finding Nemo in soft pastels, and the length is perfect. JJ really enjoyed this one, and so did I. A great book for Finding Nemo fans of any age, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

The Mixed-Up Truck (Stephen Savage)

Hello, everybody! Today’s book is The Mixed-Up Truck by Stephen Savage, a light and fun story about a little cement mixer doing his best to help.

It’s Cement Mixer’s first day on the job at the construction site, and he’s ready to help! He asks the other trucks what he can do for them, and they suggest he load up with fine powdered cement and mix it up into liquid cement for them. He does as they ask, but gets his powder mixed up: instead of cement, he mixes up flour instead and makes a cake! He tries again, but this time he confuses sugar for the cement and makes frosting! Can little Cement Mixer get UN-mixed-up in time to help build the building?

This book was short, simple, but definitely fun. Mixer’s eagerness to help, even through his mistakes, is sweet and provides a good opportunity to teach children about paying attention to details and not rushing through tasks. The illustrations are very cute, and JJ definitely enjoyed the anthropomorphic “twucks.” The length is short enough for even very small bookworms, and overall, it’s a great little story about perseverance. Baby Bookworm approved!