Between the Lines (Lindsay Ward)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Between the Lines by Lindsay Ward, a story about the importance of community.

In a vibrant, diverse city neighborhood, the young boy who serves as narrator remembers when the colors were swept away from their street. They began fading slowly; then, after a violent storm one night, the neighborhood awoke the next morning to find that all the color had washed away entirely, and a great rift in the street had divided it right through the center. Time passes, and the colors never return. The boys dreams of them, but they begin to fade even from his memories and dreams. Finally, the boy decides something must be done – and if no one else will do it, he’ll just have to do it himself.

Slightly vague but still beautiful. The metaphors that the absent colors represent may be a little dense for younger readers; it took me some pondering to arrive at what I think the fading/reappearing colors and the rift were supposed to represent, and I’m still not 100% sure. However, the greater themes of togetherness and teamwork are more readily understood, and still create a stirring story about how initiative and working together can heal problems within communities. The artwork shines, using the literal lack of color to great effect; for instance, a spread where the boy dreams of color after he (and the reader) have been deprived of it for so long is a powerful jolt. The length is great for a storytime, and JJ loved the intricate art and creative layouts, as well as the story’s message. This one is definitely worth the read; it may require a little consideration afterwards, but it’s a subject worth considering. Overall, Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Mirabel’s Missing Valentines (Janet Lawler)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Mirabel’s Missing Valentines, written by Janet Lawler and illustrated by Olivia Chin Mueller, a sweet Valentine story about courage and community.

Mirabel is a painfully shy young mouse, incredibly nervous at the thought of making and giving valentines to her classmates. Still, she makes each one carefully and lovingly, then packs them in her bag and anxiously awaits the next day. As she makes her way to school, she doesn’t notice that a small hole in her bag is allowing the valentines to drop out one by one! They are picked up by townspeople, giving each one who encounters the lovely cards a boost of happiness. Just before reaching school, Mirabel realizes what happens and cries out; the townspeople hear her, and return the cards to the rightful owner, thanking Mirabel for brightening their day. Buoyed by the praise and kindness, Mirabel finds the courage to enjoy her class’s Valentine’s Day party – and even receives a special surprise when she returns home.

Adorable and sweet. Mirabel’s shyness will undoubtedly be familiar to some bookworms, and the story offers the lovely message that even shy people can touch others through their talent – in Mirabel’s case, her beautiful handmade valentines. There’s also a stellar lesson in community: the accidental recipients of the valentines include a lonely elderly woman, a jogger having a rough day, a dad who is delighted to hear his baby speak in reaction to the card, etc. After the valentines have brought them together, they are shown to be interacting with each other, showing how a simple gesture of friendship can bring strangers together. The illustrations are absolutely adorable, the town and its citizens all a wealth of personality and charm. The length was great, and JJ loved it – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

The Red Prince (Charlie Roscoe)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Red Prince, written by Charlie Roscoe and illustrated by Tom Clohosy Cole, a riveting story that looks at the power of community.

In the kingdom of Avala, there was a king, a queen, and their young son, the prince. All three were beloved by the people, many seeing the king and queen off when they embark on a voyage, leaving the prince in charge. But as a winter snow fell over the land, invaders came and took the royal city by night, capturing the prince and locking him in a dark tower far from home. He and his faithful dog manage a daring escape, but now he is lost in the snow, his red pajamas marking him as the target of a manhunt. He meets a girl who tells him he must travel to the city, but he is alone and afraid. She assures him that if he has faith in his people, they will come to his aid; and as she promised, he finds that they do. But as he nears the city, he fears that he will no longer be able to hide himself or his red pajamas – until he discovers what can happen when many people band together to do what is right.

Very exciting! This one reads like an adventure story, and JJ and I were both captivated to find out what happened next. The ultimate lessons are that of what happens when large groups of people come together to fight cruelty, tyranny, or injustice peacefully – and the climatic movement was both surprising and touching. The illustrations are fabulous, and evoke a cinematic sense of storytelling, using color, layout, and character to create tense and dynamic scenes. The length is fine, and JJ and I both really enjoyed it. An exciting story combined with a good lesson in the power of the peaceful resistance, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Pie Is For Sharing (Stephanie Parsley Ledyard)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Pie Is For Sharing, written by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard and illustrated by Jason Chin, a sweet story about friendship, community, and the simple joys of summer.

Following a gathering of families for a day at the lakeside, the text begins with the titular sentiment: “pie is for sharing.” It starts as a round thing, but it can then be cut into as many pieces as you need, so everyone can have a slice. Lots of other things are for sharing, too: books, toy boats, music, stories, climbing trees, hugs – there are so many things you can share with the people around you, and the people you care about. Night breezes, berries, the last slice of homemade bread, and fireworks – these are made for sharing too. “Just like pie.”

At first, this can be read as a simple ode to summer – swimming, picnicking, playing in the sand with friends, enjoying a fireworks show as a community. The art certainly captures the joyful, carefree atmosphere of children in summertime, creating a lovely sense of nostalgia on every page. But not far beneath the surface appeal, there is a fantastic message about community and diversity to be found. The gathered families are a rainbow of skintones and ethnicities, they and their children joining together in eating a meal, playing, and sharing. With this, it becomes a story about sharing our world, our neighborhood, and ourselves with others, and experiencing the happiness that doing so brings. Otherwise, the length is great, and JJ loved the detailed, cheerful illustrations. This is a warm summer’s day of a book: relaxing, bright, and leaving the reader with a sense of comforting hope. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Windows (Julia Denos)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Windows, written by Julia Denos and illustrated by E.B. Goodale, a lovely twilight meditation on people and community.

When you look at your window as the sun goes down, at just the right time, you will begin to see a light show coming to life. As the dark of night begins to take the sky, people turn on their lights, and you can stroll through the neighborhood (with trusty pup in tow) and look at the glimpses into the lives of others that their windows provide. The warm glow of their lights show people watching tv, doing yoga, learning to dance. They cook dinner, play together, practice musical instruments. They are families and friends and people living their lives, just like you and I. Some windows are dark, and waiting to be filled with stories of their own. And there’s no better window than the one filled with the ones you love, who welcome you home with a kiss, a cuddle, and a bedtime story.

What a lovely little book! Following a little boy as he walks his dog through his town at dusk, the sincere, contemplative text combines with gorgeous sunset-colored illustrations to tell a story of childhood curiosity and community. There’s a wonderful nostalgic quality as well (who didn’t spend time in their youth catching glimpses of other people’s homes through their windows and wondering about the inhabitants?). The length is great, and JJ and I both really enjoyed the peaceful story and the beautiful art. We loved this one, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!