Thursday (Ann Bonwill)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Thursday, written by Ann Bonwill and illustrated by Kayla Harren, a moving look at trauma, healing, and friendship.

“They told her on a Thursday.” Prior to her parents breaking the news of their divorce to the unnamed little girl protagonist, Thursday was her favorite day of the week. But after that fateful Thursday, everything was be different: a new school, two new bedrooms, and a whole lot of change. Overwhelmed and scared of what’s to come, the little girl feels like she’s melting. That’s why the narrator came to stay for a while – to be a friend when the little girl needed them most.

A beautiful and touching exploration of how children process trauma. Told from an unusual point of view – and one I won’t give away here, because the slow reveal is part of the story’s flawless construction – Bonwill weaves a challenging yet affirming story of how children deal with trauma, and how both those around them and they themselves can help the healing process. Bonwill’s text is simple yet extremely heartfelt, and offers actionable strategies in addition to empathetic words. Harren’s atmospheric illustrations tell so much story themselves, filled as they are with incredible details and deep emotion of their own. There’s also some great representations of diversity, including a tattooed/pierced educator of color that made my day (yay for body diversity). The length is good for a storytime, but this is a book that is best for slow consideration and discussion, and/or for kids going through tough times who need to feel seen. Overall, a truly affecting picture book that we highly recommend – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

After The Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again (Dan Santat)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is After The Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat, an unexpectedly moving postscript to the famous nursery rhyme.

You’ve heard the story, now hear his side: Humpty Dumpty did indeed love sitting on top of the wall once. It gave him a lovely view of the city, and brought him closer to the birds, whom he loved to study and observe. But since the fall, well, he’s scared of heights. Even the top bunk of his bunkbed is too far for him, and he sleeps on the ground instead. He misses the birds and the things he once loved, but he just can’t shake his fear. Determined to go on with life, he finds other ways to feel close to the birds: he builds a model plane in the shape of one, and it’s as good as when he was up high… well, almost. But when his painstakingly crafted model gets stuck on top of the very wall he once fell from, what will he do? Can Humpty find the courage to make the climb once more?

I was not expecting this story to be as powerful as it was! Using the famous story of Humpty Dumpty, Santat explores a bold theme for a picture book, the aftermath of trauma. Humpty is scarred from his experience, physically and mentally, and it’s treated with surprisingly delicacy; the audience is made sympathetic to his phobia and how it prevents him from enjoying life as he once did. It makes the climactic climb to retrieve his model all the more dramatic, leading to an astonishingly stirring ending that is surprising, gratifying and inspirational. Santat’s signature seamless blend of reality and fantasy in his art leaps off the page as usual, the length is perfect, and JJ and I both loved it. This is an amazing book, and it will move you. Baby Bookworm approved!