Extraordinary Ordinary Ella (Amber Hendricks)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Extraordinary Ordinary Ella, written by Amber Hendricks, and illustrated by Luciana Navarro Powell, a fantastic story of kindness.

Ella has an issue. Everyone she knows is talented at something: her sister Carmen is a graceful dancer, her cousin Kenji is a virtuoso pianist, her best friend Maria is a wizard at baking, and so on. In fact, it seems that everyone at Ella’s school is brilliantly talented at something… except for Ella. So when the school talent show is announced, Ella is excited to enter… but clueless as to what her talent will be. All week, she attempts different routines – ribbon dancing, juggling, knitting – but to no avail. Still, she can be there to support her friends, who often run into problems with their own performances that Ella is quick to assist with or solve. At last, the day of the big talent show arrives, and Ella eagerly watches all her friends perform from the audience. Yet, thanks to her grateful pals, Ella may still get her moment in the spotlight, and find that she’s extraordinarily talented after all.

Lovely. This sweet tale has a great message for little ones: we can’t all be great at everything, and sometimes a hobby or sport or artistic pursuit doesn’t work out. What we can all do, however, regardless of innate ability, is exercise “ordinary” talents: being kind, helpful, and generous with our time and resources. In fact, one of Ella’s most inspiring qualities is that she shows no jealousy or spite towards her peers, even as she struggles; they are her friends, and she wants them to succeed. It’s great modeling for young readers, showing that no matter what our individual talents are, we are all capable of being good to one another. The charming and diverse illustrations add to the warm tone, and the length is perfect for a storytime – JJ loved it. An earnest tale with a timeless lesson, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

The Secrets Of Ninja School (Deb Pilutti)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Secrets Of Ninja School by Deb Pilutti, a lovely story of courage, perseverance, and learning what makes us special.

Every summer, for one weekend, the very special school on the edge of town opens its doors. The students who arrive are called saplings, and they are there to learn the ways of the ninja. In addition to hiding invisibly, moving silently, fighting bravely, and meditating quietly, each student will learn their own special talent. But sapling Ruby just can’t seem to get the hang of any of it. She confides in Master Willow, who promises that she has a talent unique to her, and she will find it. And with time, Ruby begins to improve her basic ninja skills, but with no sign of her individual gift in sight. That is until one night, when the bunk room of ninja school experiences an epidemic amongst its saplings: homesickness.

So sweet. I absolutely LOVED that this was a ninja story with a female protagonist that sent a very important lesson: we all have value unique to us. I loved that Ruby worked hard and became a better ninja, but that her true talent was her kindness and empathy – when the other kids are wracked with homesickness, Ruby makes them cuddly toys and comforts them through their sadness. That is a marvelous lesson for little girls and boys, that strength lies not only in power or wisdom, but in kindness too. The illustrations were darling and funny, the story was engaging and fun to read, JJ loved it, and there’s even an awesome craft instructional in the back for little ninjas to do with their grownups. A marvelously entertaining story with a timeless message, and we loved 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.)

The Cranky Ballerina (Elise Gravel)

Hello, everyone! After the disappointment of yesterday’s book, we were hoping for something fun today! And thankfully, we got it with today’s read, The Cranky Ballerina by Elise Gravel, a fun and silly story with a classic message about finding your path.

Ada hates Saturdays. Every Saturday, she has to get up early, put on her tight leotard and her itchy tutu, and go to her ballet class (which she hates most of all)! The teacher is nice, but no matter how hard Ada tries, she just can’t get the hang of it, and she doesn’t really want to. But when her disastrous attempt at a pirouette spins and kicks her right out into the hall, she runs into another teacher who just might have the perfect solution to her problem!

What a fun read this was! First, who doesn’t love a story about finding the hobbies and skills that make you feel happy and special? It’s always a great message for kids, that being bad at one thing just means that you might be great at something else. In addition, the simple, sassy illustrations are lots of fun and full of character, and the text has got humor and charm, making it a fun one to read aloud. The length is perfect for baby bookworms of all ages, and JJ really enjoyed it! We liked this one a lot! Baby Bookworm approved!

The Bee Who Sneezed (Stephen Evans)

Hello, friends! Today, we read The Bee Who Sneezed, written by Stephen Evans and illustrated by Mic Ru, the story of a bee who finds a new talent in an unexpected way.

A bee is flying one day when he suddenly sneezes, and goes in the opposite direction he intends to. Suddenly, he is falling: he cannot get his bearings! But he flattens his wings and finds that he can glide instead. Excited to find his new talent, he shows the rest of his hive how to use this new way of flying, and is proud.

This book is sort of a mixed bag. On one hand, the bright, colorful illustrations are great, and JJ loved them. And while the story and message are both great, being proud of your own unique talents (including a couple of blank pages in the back of the book where readers can list their own talents, which is nice), the book has a few issues: the rhyme scheme isn’t very consistent, which makes reading it aloud a bit tricky, and there are some pages that could have benefited from different punctuation or grammar choices. Still, the book is a good length for baby bookworms, and JJ enjoyed it, so Baby Bookworm approved!

Baby Wren And The Great Gift (Sally Lloyd-Jones)

Summer Reading Day 80: Hey there! Today, we read Baby Wren And The Great Gift, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jen Corace. In this story, a baby wren observes life in the canyon where she lives, admiring the amazing things she sees her fellow animals doing (eagles soaring, sunfish swimming, etc), and feeling sad that she can’t join in on their fun. Wishing she could be amazing like her friends, she observes the splendor of her canyon habitat, and finds something within her that is as grand and beautiful as her home.

This was a wonderfully sweet story about finding one’s own talent and greatness, combined with a testament to the beauty of nature. Between the lively, colorful illustrations and the wistful descriptions, the reader can get a sense of the awe that Baby Wren’s canyon inspires. The story wasn’t a bad length for a 1-year-old, though JJ’s attention span was threatening to run out for the last few pages. Overall, though, this was a lovely book with a great message. Baby Bookworm approved.