Today (Julie Morstad)

Hello friends! Happy New Year’s Eve! We’re moving into the next year with our very last review of 2017, Today by Julie Morstad.

A cheerful narrative surrounds this object identification book, wishing the reader a good morning and asking a simple question: what will you do today? Of course, it’s important to first get dressed and have breakfast, and there are many options to choose from in both cases. After that, there are lots of things that the reader can do, rain or shine. Go on a picnic? Or to the beach? Would they prefer to be in a bustling city, or in a quiet place alone? No matter how the reader chooses to spend their day, it will always end with getting ready for bed, getting tucked in, and asking one last question before they drift off to sleep: what will you do tomorrow?

This was great! JJ is just beginning to get into these types of books, and she really enjoyed this one. We especially liked how the elements of object identification (foods, clothing, transportation, things in a bedroom, etc.) are woven together with a storyline; it gives the book a structure that allows it to be read either in a linear manner or simply enjoyed page by page. The illustrations are wonderful, energetic and charming, and the text is whimsical and cheeky at times, yet soothingly bright at others. The length is variable depending on how the book is approached, but can easily be read in one sitting. A fun way to educate while inspiring imagination and communication, and it’s definitely Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Singing Away The Dark (Caroline Woodward)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the quietly enchanting Singing Away The Dark, written by Caroline Woodward and illustrated by Julie Morstad, the story of a little girl’s trick for finding courage in the darkness.

What if you really did have to walk a mile through the snow on your way to school? This little girl does, and once her mother has packed her lunch and bundled her up, she sets out into the dark countryside on her way to the bus stop. The winter woods are cold, and can sometimes be scary, especially before the sun comes up. But our heroine has a trick to help her find her courage: she sings. Her songs keep the shadows at bay, and bring light to the darkened woods as the sun comes up to hear her tune. It’s a small thing, but it brings her courage for the cold morning, and gives her power over the fading night.

Absolutely lovely. Inspired by the author’s childhood (remember a time that children were allowed to walk through the dark to their bus stop alone?), playing off the old “two miles in the snow, uphill both ways” gag, yet also deeply symbolic, there are so many meaningful layers to this simple yet striking story. The text is a joy to read, with a subtle, soothing rhyme scheme that brings the reader into the imagination of a child. The art is stunning, creating a frozen atmosphere so rich that you could swear you feel the chilly wind and hear the crunch of snow. The length is perfect, and JJ and I both loved it. A beautiful winter tale of courage and inner strength, 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.)

This Is Sadie (Sara O’Leary)

Hello, friends! Our book today is This Is Sadie, written by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad, a sweet tale of a little girl with a big imagination.

When the reader is introduced to Sadie, she sits inside a cardboard box. But it isn’t the box it appears to be, Sadie explains. No, it’s a mighty ship, sailing a vast sea, and Sadie is exploring every corner, yet still back before breakfast. This is how Sadie spends her days: using her imagination, creativity and sense of adventure to craft wonderful stories. Some stories are real life with her friends, some are between the pages of books, and some stories are her very own. With these stories, Sadie can be a million people and have a million adventures, but best of all, she is always Sadie, which is the perfect person for her to be.

This was a strange, whimsical celebration of creative personalities, but we sort of loved it. It’s not a traditional linear story, instead more of a character study of a little girl who loves to use her imagination. But with gorgeously rich art that effortlessly takes the reader on Sadie’s journeys alongside her, and warm, guileless text, it makes for a lovely read. JJ adored the illustrations, and the length was fine for her, so if you’re looking for a book that sets a curious and adventuresome mood, this is a great book for you. Baby Bookworm approved!

Swan: The Life And Dance Of Anna Pavlova (Laurel Snyder)

Hello, everybody! Today’s book is Swan: The Life And Dance Of Anna Pavlova, written by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Julie Morstad, a picture book biography of the noted turn-of-the-century ballerina.

Born to humble beginnings in a cold, dark, and snowy country, Anna is very small while the world is very big. One day, Anna’s mother brings her to the ballet, and Anna feels her spirit grow. She is possessed by the desire to dance, working tirelessly despite her small size. She becomes a world-famous prima ballerina, performing for dignitaries and royalty. But Anna came from small beginnings, and she wants people like her to experience the wonder and beauty of dance. So Anna travels the world, dancing for rich and poor, in cities and villages, for princely sums and for nothing at all. And even when she grows sick and weak, the will to dance still burns within her, until she leaves the world wishing for one last spotlight, and one last turn as her most famous role, The Dying Swan.

This is an undeniably gorgeous book. The art is breathtakingly beautiful, capturing the light and delicate grace of Pavlova’s style of ballet, the fashions of the time, and the transformation of a dancer in their role. The text has a poetic rhythm, forgoing the basic statement of fact present in most biographies for spare, lyrical prose that definitely fits the ambiance of the book. Still, I might not recommend this for very young bookworms like JJ: the longer length, muted color scheme, and the accurate but rather depressing ending (Pavlova died as theatrically as she lived, but tragically nonetheless) make it a bit of a downer, and JJ clearly wasn’t feeling it by the end. Older bookworms, however, are sure to be enchanted by the phenomenal art and story, so we can still call this one Baby Bookworm approved!