I Love My Llamacorn (Danielle McLean)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Love My Llamacorn, written by Danielle McLean and illustrated by Prisca Le Tandé, an adorable board book about a beloved magical friend.

What do you get when you cross a llama and a unicorn? Why, a llamacorn, of course! As the rainbow-horned and -tailed creature gallops across the colorful plains and dances on fluffy clouds, the narration proclaims their love and friendship for it, showing special appreciation for their kindness, gentleness, and encouraging nature.

Sugary sweet. There’s not a lot of substance to this board book beyond it’s joyful use of rainbow colors, enchantingly adorable characters, and cutout-heart and glitter elements. Yet as the reader admires Llamacorn’s knack for bringing joy to others and living happily and colorfully, this doesn’t seem to matter. Llamacorn is merry, spirited, and exuberant, and encourages the reader to believe in themselves, listen to their heart, and be proud of how special they are. It’s a bite-sized read full of unabashed cheer and positivity, and like llamacorn, is fine just as it is. The titular animal and its many furred, feathered, and even plant- and celestial-based friends are precious, and JJ loved this one. A sweet treat of a book, and we recommend it to any little reader in need of a happiness boost. Baby Bookworm approved!

The Magician’s Hat (Malcolm Mitchell)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Magician’s Hat, written by Malcolm Mitchell and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, a magical ode to the power of reading.

Family Fun Day has come to the library, and families of all shapes and sizes have gathered for the stories, activities, and of course, the books. For the first time, there’s also a magician, a tall and lanky man with a very mysterious hat. After performing a few mystifying tricks, the magician tells a story: when he himself was a young boy, he came to Family Fun Day at the library as well. It was there that he picked up his first book on magic, and learned that reading books has a magical power all its own. Then, he encourages his young audience to think about what they want to be when they grow up, then reach into his hat. Incredibly, the children who do so – even the skeptic – find just the right book to encourage their aspirations and help them envision their goals. The magician invites everyone to look for magic in books, because reading can help them make their dreams come true.

Very sweet. With an emphasis on the importance of reading as a self-driven hobby, the story focuses on how books can help us achieve dreams, both in the fantastical sense as well as the realistic. There’s not too much rising or falling action, but the message is strong enough that it holds its own without a more involved plot. Lee-Vriethoff’s illustrations are as charming as always, with spreads featuring the lanky-limbed magician and the children’s dreams and aspirations being gorgeous standouts. The length is fine, and JJ enjoyed it. A wonderful story about the power of reading, and we liked it a lot. Baby Bookworm approved!

The Little Unicorn (Sheri Fink)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Little Unicorn, written by Sheri Fink and illustrated by Lynx Animation Studios, the latest in the author’s Whimsical World series.

The Little Unicorn lives in an enchanted forest, filled with rainbows, lollipop flowers, and magical fairies. The forest is tied to the magic of Unicorn’s inner sparkle, which she activates by thinking of the things she is grateful for. Unfortunately, Unicorn wanders too far into the surrounding forest one day, becoming lost and afraid. After finding her way through the danger, she attempts to activate her magic, only for it to fail. Upset and alone, Unicorn has trouble thinking of what she is grateful for, and her magic begins to fade, the colors of her home along with it. All seems lost… until a good friend encourages Unicorn to believe in herself, and find that true magic never really dies.

Lovely. The sugar-sweet tone of the illustrations belies a rather beautiful and even complex story. Young readers get a valuable lesson in coping by reaching out to supportive loved ones, remembering appreciate what they have, and knowing that the magic within us never dies, it only becomes obscured when we were sad or upset. Older readers will recognize as a subtle and powerful metaphor for dealing with depression or other mental health issues. It’s subject matter I was not expecting, but was pleased to find handled gently, encouragingly, and with heart. The illustrations are unfortunately a bit generic, lacking the depth and texture that could really do their story justice; not necessarily bad, but certainly underwhelming. However, the length is good and JJ enjoyed it. A wonderful reminder for readers of all ages to never lose their sparkle, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

When It Snows (Richard Collingridge)

Merry Christmas, friends! We are celebrating with the last book in our holiday countdown, When It Snows by Richard Collingridge. This gorgeous fable tells the story of the journeys a young boy makes into a world of magic each snowfall.

Whenever the snow falls, the little boy and his faithful teddy bear begin their journey. They walk past the frozen cars and trains, following the footprints to the beautiful open fields, crisp and white with snow and filled with joyful children. They travel past the land of snowmen, on into the dark night and through the shadowy forest, led by a single floating light by which to see. They are greeted by the queen of the forest and hundreds of elves, who take them to see a very special friend, a familiar figure in a jolly red suit…

AMAZING. We were blown away by Collingridge’s Lionheart last year, so we couldn’t wait to read When It Snows, and it was even better than we had imagined. Spare, lyrical text invites the reader along on a magical winter adventure, brought to life through the jaw-droppingly enchanting illustrations, leading to a final page so unexpected and perfect that it made me gasp with delight as we read. The length is great, and JJ and I both adored it. This is a stunning book, both in art and story, and would be a wonderful addition to any child’s library. We highly recommend it, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Please Bring Balloons (Lindsay Ward)

Hello, friends! Today, we read Please Bring Balloons by Lindsay Ward, an absolutely lovely story of a girl, a polar bear, and a wonderful adventure.

One day at the carousel, Emma notices a folded note peeking out of the saddle of the polar bear:. “Please bring balloons” it reads, in text and doodle. While Emma wonders why the carousel polar bear needs a balloon, she’s happy to help, leaving a polka dot balloon tied to the bear’s saddle. She even thinks she sees the polar bear give her a tiny smile. When she returns the next day, another note: “Bring more balloons!” Emma happily complies, and when she does, she and the polar bear lift off into the air, buoyed by their magic balloons, and head off on an adventure together. Where are they going? What will they see? It all depends where the balloons take them.

This was a very sweet book. The story is very simple, but it’s charming nonetheless, and is a great celebration of the magic to be found in everyday things; it inspires the sort of imagination that makes one look at a carousel animal and wonder what enchantment it holds, and I love that. The art is the star of the show here, with gorgeous mixed-media illustrations that are equal parts realistic and fantastic, and fit the theme and atmosphere of the story perfectly. The length is just right, and there’s a stellar fold-out page that lit JJ’s eyes up. Overall, we both really liked it. This is a perfect story for the curious, the adventurous, and the dreamers, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!