The Proudest Blue (Ibtihaj Muhammad, with S. K. Ali)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Proudest Blue, written by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S. K. Ali, and illustrated by Hatem Aly, a beautiful tale of sisterhood and hijabi pride.

Sisters Asiyah and Faizah (inspired by Muhammad’s own sisters) are at the shop to pick out Asiyah’s “first day” hijab. Immediately, the older sister is drawn to a bright, rich blue, one that reminds younger Faizah of the ocean on a clear day, when it meets the sky and seems endless. As the two walk to school the next morning, they both beam with pride: Asiyah donning her new hijab and Faizah in awe of how regal her sister looks (“I’m walking with a princess”). Yet when the two get to school, the reactions of the other children are mixed: Asiyah’s friends love her new look, but some – such as a young classmate of Faizah’s – are puzzled by it. Worse, several children bully and even threaten Asiyah. Faizah watches as her older sister refuses to acknowledge such ignorance and, remembering lessons their mother taught them to deal with bullies, is filled with pride for her sister all over again. She draws a picture for their mother of two princesses in hijab, and decides on the walk home that when her “first day” comes, she knows exactly what color hijab to pick: the proudest shade of blue.

Stunning. There has been some wonderful kidlit about hijab in the last few years, and this deeply personal and affirming title is a fantastic addition to the sub-genre. Multiple themes are explored, from the deep bonds of sisterhood, the difficulties of facing ostracism and bullying, hijabi and Muslim culture, and how all these can and do weave together. Several passages give bullied children, hijabi or otherwise, a good roadmap for dealing with the hurtful words of others, and the beautiful descriptions and interpretations of the blue headscarf inspire pride for young Muslim readers. The art is fittingly gorgeous, in particular the spreads in which Asiyah’s blue scarf becomes a peaceful sky or a powerful sea. The length is perfect, and JJ and I both loved it. A touching story for readers of all faiths, and a powerful love letter to young hijabi girls. Baby Bookworm approved!

Marigold & Daisy (Andrea Zuill)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the delightful Marigold & Daisy by Andrea Zuill, a story of the highs and lows of sisterhood.

Life was pretty great for Marigold – that is, until her ultra-adorable, uber-annoying little sister Daisy was born. Daisy is such a pain! Everybody fusses over how cute she is, and she follows Marigold everywhere, and she gets away with everything! Marigold feels overlooked, under-appreciated, and most of all, irritated. In fact, she’s pretty sure that Daisy has a nefarious evil plan to take over the world using her super-powered cuteness. But when Marigold is bullied by another bug, she might be surprised at who comes to her rescue – and at what she has to say!

Very sweet. The transition from only child to big sister or brother can be a difficult one for littles, so we’re always on the lookout for books that deal with the range of emotions they can go through during this time. This one hits a lot of relatable emotions (Marigold’s sense of being pushed aside when the new baby comes, for instance) while also conveying the all-important moral of the story: sisterhood isn’t always perfect, but there’s no friendship or relationship like it. The text is easily read aloud, and has a bunch of great comedic beats that make it fun. The illustrations are wonderfully expressive, using a mix of pen-and-ink and watercolor to bring the world of snails and insects to life. The length is perfect, and JJ loved it. A great story for helping little ones laugh through a time of transition, and we recommend it highly. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Frozen: A Sister More Like Me (Barbara Jean Hicks)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Frozen: A Sister More Like Me, written by Barbara Jean Hicks and illustrated by Brittney Lee, a beautiful companion to the Disney movie that explores the true meaning and value of sisterhood.

Told in rhyme, and from both Elsa and Anna’s perspectives, our story begins in a similar place as the movie: when the sisters were very little, they were quite close. And while not explicitly mentioning the events that caused Elsa to initially withdraw, the story then explores the other reason the sisters grew apart – they were very different. While Elsa was organized, academic, prim and reserved, Anna preferred to be free-spirited, spontaneous, and independent. Often, the girls would wonder what life would be like if they had a sister more like them. But as the events of the movie unfolded – Anna seeing Elsa’s incredible powers and Elsa seeing her sister’s courage and loyalty – the women realize that the sister they already have is all they could ever want, because they are perfect just as they are.

Of all the Disney tie-ins we’ve read recently, this may be my favorite so far. It not only captures the spirit of the movie it’s based on, but actually enhances it by giving more depth to the characters. What’s more, its story is incredibly relatable for siblings, especially sisters, showing that while they may often wish for a sibling more like themselves, it’s important to love family for their own talents, strengths and interests. The art is as lovely and animated as one would expect from a Disney book, and translates the 3D characters of Frozen into picture book form perfectly. The length is great, the dueling narrative was interesting, and JJ and I both enjoyed it. A fantastic read for Frozen fans and their families, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Maple & Willow Together (Lori Nichols)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Maple & Willow Together by Lori Nichols, the adorable second book in the Maple & Willow series.

Maple and Willow are sisters, and love spending all their time together. They play together, eat together, and even sleep in the same bed if little Willow gets scared or lonely. They even have their own secret language! They especially love playing outside together, in all types of weather, all year long. But even though they love being together, sometimes disagreements can happen, like if big sister Maple gets a little pushy, or Willow loses her temper and stomps on Maple’s favorite toy. Sisters will fight, and sometimes even need to be put into time-outs to cool down. But sisters always make up just like Maple and Willow do, because nobody loves each other like sisters do.

This was a wonderfully sweet follow-up to Maple that celebrates the special relationship that sisters have, especially as children. The art is absolutely adorable, and perfectly captures the quiet, loving moments that siblings can have as they play, imagine, and explore together. The story is great, as it also shows how to positively handle fights between little ones, especially how they can resolve them on their own. The length is great, and JJ and I enjoyed it a lot. A perfect read for any bookworm siblings, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Little Big Girl (Claire Keane)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is Little Big Girl by Claire Keane, a heart-meltingly sweet ode to big sisterhood.

Matisse is a little girl. Every morning, she brushes her little teeth, ties her little shoes, and gets into her little car seat to go off into her big, busy city. But when Matisse’s baby brother is born, she realizes that she’s not so little after all. In fact, compared to him, she’s big! So she decides that it’s her responsibility to help the new little one learn the ropes, so they can explore the great big world together.

What a positively lovely book. Inspired by her own children, Keane takes a classic theme, introducing a new baby to the family, and infuses it with miles of heart. I loved that Matisse never shows jealousy or reluctance in the face of her big sisterhood, and is in fact excited to help and interact with the new baby. And the theme of Matisse finding her place in the new order of things as both a little girl and a big sister, feels fresh and personal. The art is absolutely endearing, and Matisse and family will have any reader charmed. The length is just right for baby bookworms, and JJ absolutely adored it. This is a perfect pick for little ones getting ready to welcome a new sibling into their lives, and we highly recommend it. Emphatically Baby Bookworm approved!