It’s Okay To Be A Unicorn! (Jason Tharp)

Hello, friends! Our book today is It’s Okay To Be A Unicorn! by Jason Tharp, a sweet tale of individuality and having the courage to be oneself.

On a sleepy isle lies the town of Hoofington, which is populated entirely by equines – horses, ponies, but NOT unicorns, who are the subject of vicious rumors. Cornelius, a citizen of Hoofington, is a talented hatmaker; in fact, he’s positively never seen in public without one of his signature hat creations. Hoofington’s townsfolk are all a-tizzy, preparing for the yearly Hoofapalooza, an enormous festival of food and fun. Every year, the festival is capped off by a performance of epic proportions, and this year, Cornelius has been tapped to put on the show. He’s excited, but also nervous; you see, Cornelius has a secret, and it’s one that may change his life in Hoofington forever.

Very cute. The ultimate revelation – that Cornelius is a unicorn himself – is spoiled on the cover, yet not at the detriment of the story; in fact, the audience sharing in Cornelius’s struggle to hide – and ultimately reveal – who he is gives a nice sense of camaraderie with the colorful character. This works well, especially as the story progresses and Cornelius becomes a clear allegory for marginalized people living in the closet (LGBTQ+ in particular), especially with the introduction of the rumor and hearsay elements of the story. Cornelius’s “coming out” performance, in which he reveals his unicorn horn, is ultimately triumphant, especially in a sweet spread that shows his closest friends accepting who he is without hesitation or surprise, then the rest of Hoofington quickly following suit after their initial shock. And while it may feel like a bit of a fairytale ending, it works for the relentlessly positive tone of the book. Colorful, energetic illustrations are a treat, the length is great, and JJ likes 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.)

One More Hug (Megan Alexander)

Hello, friends! Our book today is One More Hug, written by Megan Alexander and illustrated by Hiroe Nakata, an ode to the special bond between mothers and sons.

In this sentimental tale, a mother reflects fondly on several significant moments in her oldest son’s childhood. From waiting for the first bus to school, playing pretend in the backyard, learning to ride a bike and more, these big-little moments are often a mix of happiness, excitement, yet sometimes disappointment or fear, such as when a favorite toy breaks or a loud screech of a schoolbus door startles. But in those moments, mommies are there for one more hug, one more kiss, and one more cuddle – for no matter how old little one gets, they will always be their Mama’s boy.

Very sweet. Dedicated to her own two sons, author Alexander creates a loving and timeless narration of mothers and sons. The afterward also claims that the intention of the story is to show parents and young children that it’s okay for boys to show emotion and their feelings; however, this theme feels far less fleshed-out. Still, the root story is solid, and filled with moments that mothers will relate to, especially in the bittersweet pride and joy of watching one’s baby grow into an adult. The soft, airy artwork has a nostalgic feel that fits the sentiment of the story, and JJ enjoyed the soothing tenderness of the text. This would be a wonderful gift for little (or big) sons and their moms, as a reminder of the incomparable bond they share. 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 Littlest Dragon (Jessica Minyard)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Littlest Dragon by Jessica Minyard, a delightful indie tale of finding one’s courage.

In a distant sea, on the Island of Bones, there lives a tiny dragon named Bimnid. And on an island of great dragons, Bimnid can’t help but feel unimportant. He’s not the biggest, or the most beautiful, or the strongest. He doesn’t have the loudest roar, nor can he breathe plumes of smoke and flame. In fact, Bimnid doesn’t seem to be the “-est” anything… except the small-est. That is, until a ship full of fearsome dragon hunters is spotted on the horizon, and the dragons are thrown into a tizzy about what to do. Will Bimnid hide like the other dragons want to? Or will he find that he is the very best at something after all?

Very sweet. The structure of the story is fairly familiar: a previously unassuming character finds their courage in a moment of truth – Bimnid takes the initiative to march down to the dragon hunters and tell them off; they, not speaking dragon language and never having seen a dragon before, take in his comparatively towering size, growls, and hisses, and make a quick getaway. It’s a nice moment that proves one does not have to be the biggest, strongest, or loudest to be the bravest. The sentence structure in the text and the illustrations are slightly more uneven, though the incredibly creative character design of the different dragons is worthy of applause. The length is fine, and JJ liked this one a lot. A bit rough around the edges, but this dragon tale is definitely worth a look – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Make Herstory (Giavanna Grein)

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Hello, friends! Our book today is Make Herstory, written by Giavanna Grein and illustrated by Stephanie O’Donnell, a book of girl-power affirmations for young readers.

Welcome to the world, girl! It’s full of endless possibilities for you, even if you may have to fight sometimes to achieve them. See, oftentimes you will be told that, as a girl, you can’t – but don’t you believe it. Girls can do anything, from excelling in science and technology, creating beautiful pieces of art and music, being victorious athletes, lifesaving first responders, bold lawyers, or world-changing activists. So don’t be afraid to work hard, raise your voice, and chase your dreams; every girl has the power to make HERstory.

Readers will know that we love a book with a strong feminist message, and this one has decent concept. As the rhyming texts describes the many occupations and areas of expertise that girls can make their mark in – a healthy mix of science, government, the arts, athletics, and more – a single, red-haired young women is shown in one of the roles mentioned on the adjacent page. It’s a good concept, illustrating that each girl has the potential within her to be great in any number of things. However, this limited character focus is unfortunately to the book’s detriment as well: since a sole white character is the focus, the very few women of color depicted in the illustrations are limited to the background, and even then, they are noticeably scarce. Even in crowd scenes, such as the protest march shown both on the cover and within the book, it’s difficult to find a person of color in a sea of white faces. As intersectionality is still very much an issue in the current feminist movement, this lack of diversity is disappointing, especially in such otherwise visually dynamic artwork. The text also reads very well, despite a few rhythmic missteps. The length was fine, and JJ did enjoy being able to explore the various professions. This is a solid effort with a strong message and, despite its fumbles, worth a look for young feminists and their caregivers. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Lana Lynn Howls At The Moon (Rebecca Van Slyke)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Lana Lynn Howls At The Moon, written by Rebecca Van Slyke and illustrated by Anca Sandu, a tale of lamby rebellion.

While the other sheep may be content to spend their days grazing in the fields or napping in the shade, Lana Lynn longs for more. Her best friend Shawn tries to encourage her to follow the norm, but Lana Lynn can’t help her thirst for adventure. Sneaking off one night, she discovers a strange, furry blanket the farmer has left out (actually a wolf-skin). Donning her “wolf’s clothing”, Lana runs though the deep dark woods, howling at the moon and living her dreams. She’s so convincing, in fact, that a wolfpack invites her to run with them, then back to their den for dinner. Lana is excited… until she realizes what – or rather WHO’S – on the menu.

This is a strange little book; entertaining, but occasionally and questionably dark. Finding that an innocent squirrel and bunny – as well as her BFF Shawn – are on the dinner table, Lana grabs her pal and skedaddles (leaving the other two animals to be devoured, presumably). There’s also the glossed-over fact that, you know, Lana is wearing the SKIN of a dead wolf during her escapade. That’s not to say that the story doesn’t have its charms: the lesson in moderation, the adorable characters, the clever twist on the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” fable, and a SOLID pun in the form of Lana Lynn’s name. However, it may also lead to some rather uncomfortable questions for the unprepared caregiver. Still, JJ really liked this one, and honestly, I did too; it’s a fun mix of dark humor with an intrepid female protagonist at a good storytime length. Definitely skim this one first to decide if it’s right for your little reader, but for us, it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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