Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow (Michelle Cuevas)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow, written by Michelle Cuevas and illustrated by Sydney Smith, a fantastic fairy tale about having the courage to explore the world outside one’s comfort zone.

Smoot is a precocious little shadow with a curious nature and a yearning to be free. The boy he is attached to is nice enough, but lives a dull, colorless life – he never jumps or leaps or plays or even colors outside the lines. Wishing for a day when he could have a life of his own, Smoot is surprised to hear a POP! – and to find he is no longer attached to his boy! At last, Smoot can dance, sing, ride the carousel, jump rope, and go wherever his dreams take him. His carefree attitude inspires the other shadows around him, and suddenly they are making their own dreams a reality: a cricket’s and grasshopper’s shadows strike up a band, a frog’s shadow becomes a handsome prince, and a tiny rock makes himself into a towering castle. Knowing that the shadows’ freedoms could become problematic if unchecked, Smoot devises clever solutions to help them realize their dreams, then decides to return to his boy – only to find his old friend has been following him since he left, and has been inspired by his boldness to embrace the color in his life.

This was such a wonderful little fable! Smoot is a charmingly earnest protagonist, both a dreamer and a realist who knows the proper balance of both. He and the other shadows serve as a great metaphor for how we should let our dreams influence us: allowing them to drive us out of complacency, but not letting them get too carried away. The illustrations are magical, and create an imaginative world that feels both familiar and fanciful. The length is perfect, and JJ adored it. A lovely tale for dreamers of any age, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Dreaming Of You (Amy Ludwig VanDerwater)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dreaming Of You, written by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and illustrated by Aaron DeWitt, a charmingly sweet bedtime book filled with animal friends.

What do animals dream of when it’s time for bed? Well, all sort of things. Kittens dream of lapping fresh milk, turtles dream of sunning themselves on the rocks, fireflies dream of dancing in the cold moonlight. But perhaps you might be surprised to find that all these lovely animals enjoy nothing more than to dream of you. For instance, puppies dream of cuddling in a warm bed with you, and horses dream that you’ll whisper secrets into their soft ears. So as you drift off to sleep tonight, enjoy your lovely gentle dreams, and know that creatures great and small are dreaming of you, too.

Delightful yet wonderfully soothing. The poem that comprises the text flows gorgeously, with flawless rhythm and delicate, whimsical rhyme. The concept deftly treads a line between adorable and saccharine, keeping an earnest air of preciousness without veering into “cutesy”. The art is lovely, blending the look of oils, pastels and mixed-media into a style that looks classic but feels fresh. The length is perfect for a bedtime read, and JJ and I adored it. A wonderful selection for helping little animals lovers wind down, and 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.)

Flight School (Lita Judge)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is the adorable Flight School by Lita Judge, a wonderful story about a plucky little penguin with a dream: to fly.

When Flight School begins its new semester, the teachers find themselves with a rather unorthodox student: a penguin! They gently inform the little chick that while they would love to teach him, penguins aren’t meant to fly. The little penguin is insistent, however, that he has the soul of an eagle, and that he can and will soar among the clouds. He works hard, studying along with his classmates, despite not being able to keep up with them physically. At last, all the Flight School students are cleared for flight… except for penguin. Dejected, he accepts his limitations and begins to leave – until Flamingo suddenly has an idea that might help the determined little penguin make his dreams a reality.

LOVED this one. It’s a touchingly sweet story about how physical attributes should never deter you from your dreams, and serves as a powerful metaphor for differently-abled people not letting their bodies determine their fate. It also encourages others not to dismiss a person’s dreams based on physicality: Penguin’s teachers are the ones who build him a set of wings from their own feathers, then help him to stay up in the air. It’s a lovely message that encourages us to believe in the dreams of others and help them where we can. The illustrations are absolutely darling, and the length is great. JJ and I both loved this story about a community coming together to make a dream come true, and it’s definitely Baby Bookworm approved.

Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey (Emily Winfield Martin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is a bedtime favorite in the Baby Bookworm household: Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey by Emily Winfield Martin, a thoroughly gorgeous fairytale of the magical creatures that lead children to dreamland.

When the lights go out and little ones snuggle into their beds, the magic of the dream animals begins. Each child has their own special creature just for them who comes and gives them a ride to wherever their dreams take them. Perhaps a fox to carry them to an elfin hollow, or a tiger to ferry them to a circus of wonders. Faithfully transporting their charges, there’s a special animal for each dreamer; what will yours be, and where will it take you when you dream?

I absolutely ADORE this book. It has everything you could want in a bedtime book: beautiful, soothing yet fantastical illustrations, wonderfully graceful rhyming text, and a concept that is absolutely perfect for sparking the imagination of little ones. The idea that children’s beloved plush animals become the creatures that bring them to their dreams is fresh and fascinating, and perfect for creative little minds. The art is just superb, and fans of Martin’s work will be blown away by the ethereal landscapes of children’s nighttime wonderings. The length is perfect, and JJ adores this one. A phenomenal modern bedtime classic, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

This Is A Moose (Richard T. Morris)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is This Is A Moose, written by Richard T. Morris and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, a very clever and fun story about pursuing one’s dreams.

Shh! Quiet on the set! A documentary is about to begin filming. As the cameras roll, we are introduced to a moose. He has a moose mother and moose father. And he wants to be an astronaut – CUT! Wait a minute! Moose aren’t supposed to want to be astronauts! They’re supposed to drink from rivers and chew on leaves and do moose-type things! But no matter how the director of the documentary blusters and complains, Moose won’t give up on his dreams, and neither will any of his animal friends and family. But maybe the director will come to realize that, with hard work and support, dreams can be possible for anyone. He might even find a new subject for his documentary… the world’s first moosetronaut!

This is one of those great books that starts off as a very silly premise, then sneaks up on you with a fantastic moral to the story. Moose’s friends and family refuse to allow him, or themselves, to be pigeonholed into having certain dreams or aspirations based on who they are or where they come from, and that’s a lesson that every child can take to heart. I loved that the director, for all his presumptions that a moose should act a certain way, eventually realizes that he himself is a duck directing a movie – hardly a common practice for a duck, and a very funny twist for young readers. The illustrations are fantastic, using comic-style speech bubbles, bright colors and onomatopoeia to make the story leap from the page. The length is great, and JJ really enjoyed this one. A wonderful story about dreaming big dreams, no matter who or what you are, and we loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!