Bright Star (Yuyi Morales)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the utterly stunning Bright Star by Yuyi Morales, a complex and beautiful tale of life, family, community, and hope.

As a whitetail fawn takes its first breath, it is greeted by an unidentifiable voice, who welcomes its new “hermosa creatura”. As the fawn and its mother explore its beautiful desert surroundings, the voice celebrates the miracle of existence, and the preciousness and promise of this young fawn. But then, in the distance, darkness looms. A gray dust begins to overtake the land, and the fawn’s mother urges it to lie low for safety. When the dust settles, the fawn’s mother is gone, and a concrete and barbed wire wall separates the fawn and other animals from the rest of the world. The voice encourages the fawn to have courage – that even in the darkness, the brightness of their star cannot be dimmed, and someday the world will be beautiful once more.

Absolutely remarkable. Obviously, we are big fans of picture books as a medium, but sometimes a picture book comes along and reminds you that they are an unsung vehicle for the fine arts. Morales has constructed a visual and lyrical story in this book that is so layered, so nuanced, and so deeply moving that it feels impossible to capture in a review. Perhaps most striking is the “twist” ending, and its bold tone that combines heartbreaking honesty with indefatigable hope. Incredibly detailed illustrations draw the reader into both the fawn’s world and its tumultuous journey, and the combination of English and Spanish text is both authentically representative and inclusive to dual language speakers. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ thought it was gorgeous. Simply put, this is a perfect book, and we can’t recommend it enough. Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Dreamers (Yuyi Morales)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dreamers by Yuyi Morales, a breathtakingly beautiful love letter to a Dreamer.

“I dreamed of you, then you appeared. Together we became Amor – Love – Amor.” So begins a love letter from a mother to her baby, and the story of their journey together. Bundling their only belongings on her back, the mother takes her infant across a bridge to a new land. Leaving all she knows behind and unable to go back, she places her faith in the promise their new home holds, of education and opportunity. The language spoken is unlike her own, but she tries, until the day when she stumbles upon another place of education and promise: a public library. She marvels that the library opens their arms, sharing books and language and trust and safety. As her son grows, she and he both use the books and resources to learn, to adapt, and to stretch their dreams ever higher. “We are stories. We are two languages. […] We are dreamers, soñadores of the world.”

Stunning. A deeply personal tale told in an ecstatically beautiful way, Morales channels her immigration experience into a factual story with a fantastical look. Every word of the quietly powerful text has intent, each element of the mixed media art a nod to the author’s past, present, and future (Morales details the story and items that inspired the book and its visuals in the backmatter). It’s not just one love letter, but many – from mother to son, from patron to library, from reader to book, from immigrant to both home countries – all folded into a story that inspires, relates, and deeply moves. The length was great, JJ and I adored it, and I can’t recommend it enough. Baby Bookworm approved.

What’s Your Favorite Color? (Eric Carle & Friends)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the visually stunning What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle & Friends, a gorgeous collaboration of fifteen of the most beloved children’s book illustrators on their favorite colors.

What’s your favorite color? Is it yellow, like The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Eric Carle? He likes yellow because it is often the color of the sun in children’s drawings. Or is it green, like Philip C. Stead, who likes to imagine that many things can be green, even an elephant if he really feels like it. How about the late, lovely Anna Dewdney’s favorite: purple, the color of her favorite childhood outfit and the peacocks she dreamed of having one day. Or is it blue like Bryan Collier, who is reminded of his daughter whenever there are rainy days and blue balloons. Everyone has colors that are special to them, even many colors, or all the colors! How about you? What’s YOUR favorite color?

Absolutely stunning. For kidlit nerds like me who absolutely love picture book illustrations, this is quite simply a treasure trove. Each color-inspired spread is unique, personal, and visually striking, from Mike Curato’s raccoon enjoying a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone to Frann Preston-Gannon’s vibrant orange tiger hidden in grass to Jill McElmurry’s hauntingly beautiful black garden. The short blurbs that the artists have written to accompany the colors are sometimes funny, sometimes touching; all of them will make you consider each color from a different perspective. The length was fine, and JJ and I both adored it – this was even the first color book in which JJ was able to distinguish between gray and black, and the first time I’ve heard her use “black” properly! A feast for the eyes for readers of every age, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!