Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow (Michelle Cuevas)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow, written by Michelle Cuevas and illustrated by Sydney Smith, a fantastic fairy tale about having the courage to explore the world outside one’s comfort zone.

Smoot is a precocious little shadow with a curious nature and a yearning to be free. The boy he is attached to is nice enough, but lives a dull, colorless life – he never jumps or leaps or plays or even colors outside the lines. Wishing for a day when he could have a life of his own, Smoot is surprised to hear a POP! – and to find he is no longer attached to his boy! At last, Smoot can dance, sing, ride the carousel, jump rope, and go wherever his dreams take him. His carefree attitude inspires the other shadows around him, and suddenly they are making their own dreams a reality: a cricket’s and grasshopper’s shadows strike up a band, a frog’s shadow becomes a handsome prince, and a tiny rock makes himself into a towering castle. Knowing that the shadows’ freedoms could become problematic if unchecked, Smoot devises clever solutions to help them realize their dreams, then decides to return to his boy – only to find his old friend has been following him since he left, and has been inspired by his boldness to embrace the color in his life.

This was such a wonderful little fable! Smoot is a charmingly earnest protagonist, both a dreamer and a realist who knows the proper balance of both. He and the other shadows serve as a great metaphor for how we should let our dreams influence us: allowing them to drive us out of complacency, but not letting them get too carried away. The illustrations are magical, and create an imaginative world that feels both familiar and fanciful. The length is perfect, and JJ adored it. A lovely tale for dreamers of any age, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

The White Cat And The Monk (Jo Ellen Bogart)

Summer Reading Day 88: Hello, everyone! Today, we read The White Cat And The Monk, written by Jo Ellen Bogart and illustrated by Sydney Smith. This lovely book is a retelling of a 9th century Irish poem called “Pangur Bán,” and tells the story of a monk contemplating his simple life with his cat, Pangur. As his cat hunts mice, the monk studies his manuscripts, and as the day breaks, he reflects on how he and Pangur both find happiness in their pursuits and their life together.

If you’re looking for a quiet, peaceful sort of book, this one fits the bill perfectly. The story is simple and the language soothing, and the length is just perfect for baby bookworms. The illustrations are charming, done mostly in a muted palette of black, white and grays and getting more colorful as the night turns to day. We really liked this one, as did our own fair kitty, Ripley! Baby Bookworm (and kitty) approved.