I Love My Fangs! (Kelly Leigh Miller)

Hello friends, and Happy Halloween! Our book today is I Love My Fangs! by Kelly Leigh Miller, a monstrously enjoyable tale of toothy terror.

Little Dracula positively loves his fangs! They’re sharp and pointy, wonderfully useful, and part of his vampire heritage. He does his best to take good care of his fangs every day… until the day that one falls out! Panicking, Dracula tries to stick, tie, and tape his fang back into place, but to no avail. Sadly heading to bed (coffin), he is shocked to wake and find a fairy STEALING his FANG! The following chase through the house is stopped by Dracula’s parents, who introduce the Tooth Fairy and explain her aim. But will little Drac be able to let his beloved fang go?

Frightfully fun. A monster-mash-up of spooky characters puts a new spin on the very relatable theme of losing baby teeth and the nerves it can inspire. From there, details such as Dracula’s monstrous classmates (a delightful class photo is included on the back dust cover), his hooded bat pajamas, and creeptastic bedroom fill the story with tons of classic yet bloodless horror charm. The artwork work and text work together delightfully, using comic-book style dialogue and frames to tell a brisk and entertaining story in a economic yet exciting style. The length is perfect, and JJ loved the silly (not scary) vampire tale. This one is perfect for Halloween, but will also make a valuable resource for little monsters who may be nervous about losing their own teeth. 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 Little Kitten (Nicola Killen)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Little Kitten by Nicola Killen, an adorable autumn tale of feline friendship.

Little Ollie, clad in a playful catsuit, is ready to head outside to enjoy a fall day with her own pet cat, Pumpkin. Yet just as she’s about to jump into a pile of crunchy leaves, a gust of wind blows them all away – to reveal a shivering kitten hidden within! Ollie and Pumpkin welcome their new friend with a day of play and cuddles, but in all the excitement, Ollie and the new kitten run off and accidentally leave Pumpkin behind. Discovering some “Lost Kitten” flyers, Ollie realizes that her new friend is missed by his own person, and endeavors to help him find his way home. With a mysterious path, a missing Pumpkin, and a quickly-falling night, can Ollie get the kitten home… without becoming lost herself?

Delightful. This sweet-as-pumpkin-pie story is as gentle and cozy of an autumn tale as any reader could wish for. Themes of adventure and friendship (and just a hint of Halloween) are rich, yet the story itself is simple, making for a lovely and light storytime. Equally appealing is the soft yet striking artwork, which features adorable, endearing characters in shades of gray, white, and orange. The sporadic cutouts and gorgeous use of foil amongst the fall foliage is the cherry on top. The length is perfect, and JJ adored it. A modern fall classic-in-the-making that’s sure to please, 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.)

A Mischief of Monsters (Priddy Books)

Hello friends, and Happy Halloween!! Our book today is Priddy Books’s A Mischief of Monsters, illustrated by Lisa and Damien Barlow, a festive board book of spooky critters.

Focusing on three main concepts – big and little, sounds, and action verbs – this sturdy board book features a colorful collection of furry, slimy, and squishy monsters of all shapes and sizes. Each spread shows a little monster and a big monster performing a set of rhyming actions (snore and roar, munch and crunch, etc). There are also tactile elements: raised and sunken features on each monster that fit into the monster on the opposite page.

Creepy yet cute. Bright colors and extremely creative, expressive creatures are a feast for the eyes, and the tactile elements are nicely done from both a visual and sensory standpoint. There are a few areas that falter a bit, however: the text is surprisingly small for this type of book, even with the action/noise words set in a larger typeface. There’s also a few pages that lean into the “gross” section of imaginary monsters, such as one that shows a small purple monster covered in green ooze (“squelches”) – it’s not the type of thing that would offend every kid or parent, but does appeal to a certain type of sensibility and humor. But overall, this is a fun, spooky-themed romp that most any little monster would enjoy – JJ certainly did! Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Moldilocks and the Three Scares: A Zombie Tale (Lynne Marie)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the delightfully spooky Moldilocks and the Three Scares: A Zombie Tale, written by Lynne Marie and illustrated by David Lorenzo.

In a creepy mansion, the three Scares – Papa (a Frankenstein-esque monster), Mama (a science-loving mummy with an iconic black-and-white bouffant), and Baby (a young, ginger vampire boy), prepare for a dreadfully delicious dinner. But the Alpha-Bat soup that Papa has cooked up is still too hot, so the three take their ghost hound, Plasma, for a walk while it cools. That’s when Moldilocks, a recently risen zombie girl, comes across the mansion. Filled with warm food and cozy furniture, Moldilocks makes herself at home, testing the three Scares’ accoutrements (often finding one of them to be “just right”). Taking a nap in Baby Scare’s bed, she doesn’t hear the spooky family return to their rifled-through items and already-eaten meal. Yet when the family finds the culprit, their reaction may come as a surprise…

At first, I figured this would be a typical fairy tale with a spooky filter that you see around the holiday; nothing against them, they can be fun if done well. However, I was SO pleasantly surprised by the real twist of this tale: it’s an adoption story. Teased early in the narrative that there’s a empty space in the Scares’ lives, when they find Moldilocks in Baby’s bed, they happily welcome her into their home and declare her part of the family. It’s a surprisingly heartwarming turn that gives the otherwise fun, silly monster story some emotional weight, and introduces a bit of inclusion for non-traditional families. The “horror” elements are relatively tame; even as a “zombie”, Moldilocks isn’t decayed, nor does she hunger for brains. The illustrations are a cute sort of creepy that kids who love Halloween spookiness and puns will appreciate. The length was great, and JJ loved it. This was a delightful surprise of a book, and a festive way to remember that a family doesn’t have to be biological to be “just right”. 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 Itty-Bitty Witch (Trisha Speed Shaskan)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Itty-Bitty Witch, written by Trisha Speed Shaskan and illustrated by Xindi Yan, a witchy lesson in believing in oneself.

Betty is thrilled to start her first day of school as a “first-grade” witch. However, she’s scarcely in the door before she’s the subject of teasing from two of the other girls, who pick on her smaller size and “kinder-broom”. They dub her “Itty Bitty”, and despite her firm protests of “My name is Betty!”, the young witch can’t help but be hurt by the other girls’ words, feeling itty-bitty on the inside. Upon learning of the school’s annual Halloween Dash broom race, Betty sees the chance to prove herself and earn her classmates’ respect. She gives her all in training, but finds that her smaller size make some maneuvers even more difficult. Can Betty find her groove before the big race, and prove that she’s as formidable an opponent as any other witch?

Encouraging and sweet. Betty’s tale is a classic story of learning to love oneself despite bullying or detractors, and finding one’s strengths to lean into. By the end, it’s Betty’s sharp mind that proves her secret weapon, and her small size ends up being an asset in the race as well. And while the bullies of the book come around to Betty a bit quickly to feel organic, the most important development is that Betty has grown to believe in herself, and no longer lets the words of others make her feel “itty-bitty inside”. It’s an important lesson for young bookworms wrapped in a fun, Halloween-themed package (though this one could certainly be enjoyed year-round). The soft, expressive cartoon characters are winning, and the palette creates a spooky/cute vibe. The length was fine, and JJ enjoyed it (in particular, one classmate’s repeated exclamation of “Wicked!”). A sweet Halloween tale with a timeless message, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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