It’s Okay To Be A Unicorn! (Jason Tharp)

Hello, friends! Our book today is It’s Okay To Be A Unicorn! by Jason Tharp, a sweet tale of individuality and having the courage to be oneself.

On a sleepy isle lies the town of Hoofington, which is populated entirely by equines – horses, ponies, but NOT unicorns, who are the subject of vicious rumors. Cornelius, a citizen of Hoofington, is a talented hatmaker; in fact, he’s positively never seen in public without one of his signature hat creations. Hoofington’s townsfolk are all a-tizzy, preparing for the yearly Hoofapalooza, an enormous festival of food and fun. Every year, the festival is capped off by a performance of epic proportions, and this year, Cornelius has been tapped to put on the show. He’s excited, but also nervous; you see, Cornelius has a secret, and it’s one that may change his life in Hoofington forever.

Very cute. The ultimate revelation – that Cornelius is a unicorn himself – is spoiled on the cover, yet not at the detriment of the story; in fact, the audience sharing in Cornelius’s struggle to hide – and ultimately reveal – who he is gives a nice sense of camaraderie with the colorful character. This works well, especially as the story progresses and Cornelius becomes a clear allegory for marginalized people living in the closet (LGBTQ+ in particular), especially with the introduction of the rumor and hearsay elements of the story. Cornelius’s “coming out” performance, in which he reveals his unicorn horn, is ultimately triumphant, especially in a sweet spread that shows his closest friends accepting who he is without hesitation or surprise, then the rest of Hoofington quickly following suit after their initial shock. And while it may feel like a bit of a fairytale ending, it works for the relentlessly positive tone of the book. Colorful, energetic illustrations are a treat, the length is great, and JJ likes it a lot. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

If I Had A Horse (Gianna Marino)

Hello, friends. Our book today is If I Had A Horse by Gianna Marino, a stunning imagining of a child’s dream.

A young child imagines a common dream: what if they had a horse? If they had a horse, they would bring it the biggest apple they could find. They would need to be patient, and approach with caution and calm. The horse may be shy at first, like the child often is. But once it horse was within reach, they could give it a hug, and become its friend. From there, it will take, not only patience, but courage and determination to tame the horse enough to ride. The horse will need to learn gentleness, and the rider will need to learn strength. But with the right attitude, and a trusty friend by one’s side, nothing is impossible.

This was just so lovely. The stunning paint-and-pencil illustrations are simply breathtaking: charged with energy and emotion, yet by using solely the silhouetted forms of the horse and child, they are made all the more relatable to young readers. The horse could look like any little one’s dream horse, and the genderless, windswept child could be any reader. It’s perfectly fitting for the story, which is both an ode to the childhood love of horses and an apt allegory for chasing one’s dreams. The length is also great, and JJ adored the colorful horses, but this is a book that can leave readers of any age awed and inspired by its art and message. Absolutely gorgeous and Baby Bookworm approved!

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