It Fell From the Sky (The Fan Brothers)

Hello, friends! Our book today is It Fell From the Sky by The Fan Brothers, a wondrous parable about community and the unknown.

On a Thursday, the object fell from the sky. None of the insects knew what it was – a chrysalis? A gumdrop? A flower? – but after some deliberation, most agreed: it was not of this earth. Sneakily staking his claim on “the Wonder”, The Spider builds a city around the artifact, charging visitors to observe it and overdeveloping their lovely garden. That is… until the Unexpected Disaster occurs…

A marvelous fable. The Fan Brothers have an immense talent for creating fairytales out of the everyday, and this is a great example of it. From the deadpan, matter-of-fact narration, the gorgeously detailed artwork (complete with oddly and amusingly formal garden creatures in top hats and bowlers), and unexpected twists, this is a fun and entertaining tale for kids. Add in a surprisingly subtle, nuanced commentary on capitalist greed and cultural looting, and it becomes something strikingly clever and moving. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved the unique personalities of the different critters, as well as the humorous twists and mesmerizing art. Overall, a well-spun fable that kids and adults will enjoy, 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.)

The Scarecrow (Beth Ferry)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Scarecrow, written by Beth Ferry and illustrated by The Fan Brothers, a heartwarming tale of friendship and family.

A lone scarecrow stands in a field, posted upright in the ground. His presence does its job; deer, foxes, fieldmice and crows (naturally) keep their distance from his ever-vigilant watch. However, this leaves scarecrow rather lonely – with no one to come near, there’s no one to make friends with. That is until the day something small and fluffy falls – plop! – to the ground. A hatchling crow lies helplessly on the cold ground and, moved to kindness, the scarecrow breaks his pole to bend down and care for the baby. As the two become close friends, Scarecrow watches as the baby bird grows into a crow, and realizes that his friend will someday have the power to fly away and leave him. Heartbroken but wanting to be supportive, he encourages the crow, until the fateful day arrives. Watching his friend fly off into the distance, the scarecrow sags, now lacking both his pole and his friendship to keep him upright. All through fall, winter, and spring, the scarecrow wallows in his loneliness – until a familiar face reappears to usher in a new chapter of friendship and gratitude.

Magical. This incredibly beautiful tale is a perfect blend of the gently flowing, emotionally evocative rhyming text and the Fan Brothers’ stunning illustrations. The meticulously detailed yet dreamy scenes that are the Fans’ trademark work perfectly in this classic tale of kindness, especially in Scarecrow’s endearing facial expressions and how the change of seasons reflect his emotional state. Ferry’s gentle, powerful rhymes tell a timeless story in a succinct yet poetic style, and the ending is so pitch perfect that it may bring a tear to your eye. Lastly, the metaphors of sacrifice, trust, generosity, and family are beautifully interwoven. This has all the makings of a new fall classic, and one that can fortunately be enjoyed year-round. The length was great, and JJ and I both adored it. A wonderfully special book to share with the people you love, 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.)

Ocean Meets Sky (The Fan Brothers)

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Hello, friends! Our book today is Ocean Meets Sky by The Fan Brothers, a stunning seafaring fantasy about family, loss, and love.

Finn lives by the sea, and the sea lives by him. He loves the ocean, a love he once shared with his grandpa; he would have been 90 today. In honor of his grandpa, he has built a ship from scraps and flotsam – he hopes to one day take it on a voyage of his own, to find the mythical place his grandfather once spoke of, a place where ocean meets sky. After nodding off in his boat, he awakes to find that he has been swept out to sea – the journey has begun! He meets a giant, beautiful golden fish who acts as his guide, and together they cross vast oceans and see many wondrous things. At last, they find it: the place where ocean meets sky, where ships and whales float through the air with zeppelins and balloons. The golden fish swims up into the moon, and Finn sees the kind face of his grandpa smiling down on him. As he hears his mother calling for him, he and his boat are swept back to their spot on the shore, where Finn follows his mother in for a dinner of dumplings – his grandpa’s favorite.

Breathtaking yet touching and intimate. Once again, the Fan Brothers have created a detailed world straight out of a child’s imagination, with sights, landscapes, and creatures that fascinate and amuse. Every page is beautiful and inviting, and inspires the reader to share Finn’s wanderlust. The story is soft and gentle, but filled with meaning, working in concert with the art to explore themes of remembrance, family, and even Chinese culture. The length is great, and JJ and I both adored it. A beautiful and meaningful voyage across the sea and sky, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Top 5: Foxes

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Hello, friends! It’s the start of a new month, so we’re celebrating with a new Top 5! This month, we thought we’d take a look at books featuring one of our favorite animals: Foxes! Who doesn’t love a clever, cuddly fox? Without further ado, here’s The Baby Bookworm’s Top 5 Books About Foxes:

1. The Fox In The Dark (Alison Green, illus. Deborah Allwright)

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Rabbit runs home at a hurried pace; there is a vicious fox out in the dark tonight. As soon as he secures himself in his burrow for the night, he hears a knock on the door. A duck has gotten stranded in the woods, and asks to take shelter with the rabbit. Soon after, an exhausted mouse and a timid lamb also beg sanctuary, making Rabbit’s only bed quite crowded for the evening. And just as they are settling in, there is another knock at the door: the fox! But he isn’t quite what he appears to be…

“This is one of our favorite bedtime books, and we enjoy it every time. The message, that things and people are rarely as simple as they appear, is a classic but with an important twist: don’t fear what you don’t understand. By revealing that the fox isn’t hunting for a meal but for her lost cub, it encourages little readers to consider things from all perspectives before snapping to judgement.”

2. Faraway Fox (Jolene Thompson, illus. Justin K. Thompson)

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A fox wanders what used to be the fields and forests of his home, now a confusing landscape of concrete, cars, and people. He has been separated from his family by an interstate, and he spends his days exploring the unfamiliar area. One day, he finds some humans building a tunnel under the freeway, and when he explores it, he finds that it leads to a wildlife preserve… and his family!

“This is a bold attempt to explain a common modern problem to children: urban sprawl and the effect it has on wildlife. In this, it succeeds, with gorgeous illustrations and a satisfying ending.”

3. Pandora (Victoria Turnbull)

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Pandora lives all alone in a land of broken things. She uses her cleverness and ingenuity to build a cozy home and fix lost treasures, but she is still lonely. One day, a small bluebird injures itself nearby, and Pandora takes the little bird in. The two grow close, and when the bird is healthy enough to fly away, it always returns with treasures from far-off lands, fixing them into a nest as a gift for Pandora. One day, the bird doesn’t return, and Pandora is broken-hearted. But when she wakes one sunny morning, she finds that once the seeds of friendship are planted and nourished, they will grow – and that it may take a while, but true friends always find their way back home.

“This is a stunning story that uses lovely, soothing art and simple text to cover some surprisingly advanced ideas. It’s a beautiful fable for young ones, but older readers will recognize subtle themes like depression, hope, and healing within the story’s message of friendship and kindness being returned to those who give it. It’s surprisingly powerful, especially with art that conveys these emotions as much as it does the story being told.”

4. Little Fox In The Forest (Stephanie Graegin)

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This wordless picture book begins with a teacher telling a class of students, including the protagonist, that the next day will be show-and-tell; they should bring something precious and old. The little girl protagonist knows just what to bring: her beloved toy fox, which she has had since she was a baby as a constant companion. After class, she brings the little fox to the playground with her friends, but as she is enjoying the swings, a real-life fox snatches it from her backpack! The little girl and her best friend race after the fox, going on an adventure through the woods that parallels the adventure of the toy fox and its new owner. Will the little fox find its way back home – or will home become something new and unexpected?

“JJ isn’t usually interested in wordless picture books, but we really enjoyed this one! The story is so charming and exciting, the characters are so expressive, and the illustrations so detailed and lively that it was easy to enjoy the story with our own narration. The ending was especially wonderful, with both the little girl and the real fox showing each other a touching generosity and kindness that stands as a great lesson for little ones.”

5. The Antlered Ship (Dashka Slater, illus. The Fan Brothers)

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Marco the fox is filled with big questions. His fellow foxes have little interest in his questions, content to their workaday lives. So when Marco sees the antlered ship dock in the harbor, and the captain offers work as a crewman, Marco accepts. But once the new crew disembarks, they find that sailing a ship is difficult work. Finding what they are each talented at, the crew eventually bands together and becomes a great team, each discovering what they initially sought – except for Marco. He still has more questions… but perhaps he has found the answer to one of them without even realizing.

“Just lovely. This is one part a story of finding friendship, one part a story of finding oneself, one part adventure tale, and one part meditation on the unknown, all wrapped up in a bundle of gorgeously detailed and stunningly imaginative art. The text is clever, sometimes wry and often profound, weaving a story that sweeps the reader along through the highs and lows of the animals’ voyage. The art is beautiful, evoking a quiet sense of wonder and wanderlust with each page.”

That’s our list! Did we miss any of your favorites? Do you have a book you would like to recommend to us? Let us know in the comments, or message us from our Contact page. Thanks so much!

The Antlered Ship (Dashka Slater)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Antlered Ship, written by Dashka Slater and illustrated by The Fan Brothers, a beautiful tale of curiosity, friendship, and finding where you belong.

Marco the fox is filled with big questions, like “why do some songs make you happy and others make you sad?” and “how deep does the sun go when it sinks into he ocean at night?” His fellow foxes have little interest in his questions, content to their workaday lives. So when Marco sees the antlered ship dock in the harbor, and the captain offers work as a crewman, Marco accepts. Along with the captain (a deer named Sylvia), her two buck crewman, and Marco, a pigeon named Victor and his flock also accept the work, hoping to find adventure. But once the new crew disembarks, they find that sailing a ship is difficult work. Finding what they are each talented at, the crew eventually bands together and becomes a great team, each discovering what they initially sought – except for Marco. He still has more questions… but perhaps he has found the answer to one of them without even realizing.

Just lovely. This is one part a story of finding friendship, one part a story of finding oneself, one part adventure tale, and one part meditation on the unknown, all wrapped up in a bundle of gorgeously detailed and stunningly imaginative art. The text is clever, sometimes wry and often profound, weaving a story that sweeps the reader along through the highs and lows of the animals’ voyage. The art is beautiful, evoking a quiet sense of wonder and wanderlust with each page. The length is great, and JJ and I both loved it. A fantastic tale of exploring the unknown, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!