The Unicorn Came To Dinner (Lauren DeStefano)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Unicorn Came To Dinner, written by Lauren DeStefano and illustrated by Gaia Cornwall, the story of a fantastical – and rather rude – houseguest.

For the fourth time this week, the unicorn has come to Elizabeth’s house, in Elizabeth’s place. When the girl’s parents inquire where Elizabeth might be, the unicorn simply replies, “Neigh. Neigh!” (this is unicorn talk for “I ate her”; Elizabeth’s parents seem understanding of this). Grumpy, ill-mannered, and easily-frustrated, the ungainly creature is rude at the dinner table, messy throughout bathtime, and even settles in for bedtime with a chip still on its shoulder. Elizabeth’s exceedingly patient parents check in on the unicorn; Dad mentions that the first week of school can be pretty scary, and wonders if that’s the reason the Unicorn has been such a frequent guest…

Cute, if a little uneven. The well-foreshadowed reveal, that “the unicorn” is an imaginary character that Elizabeth embodies when she is feeling upset, is a familiar one for many little ones and their adult caregivers. Indeed, the moments of parental perspective in this one are genuinely funny and sympathetic, particularly when Mom must silently count to five as the unicorn splashes half the water out of the bathtub. However, this is equally frustrating when some of the unicorn’s genuinely bad behavior is allowed to occur without – even gentle – reproach. The illustrations are colorful, but can get a little chaotic due to the plethora of tight patterns, especially when the Unicorn appears multiple times across a spread. The length was fine for a storytime, and JJ seemed to enjoy it throughout. Overall, a fun read with some cute moments, if not much else. Still, Baby Bookworm approved!

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

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.)

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.)

You Don’t Want A Unicorn! (Ame Dyckman)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is You Don’t Want A Unicorn!, written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Liz Climo, a delightfully silly cautionary tale about the unexpected difficulties and dangers of having a unicorn for a pet.

What are you doing at that wishing well? Oh no, don’t – oh, now you’ve gone and done it. You wished for a pet unicorn, didn’t you? That was a mistake! Unicorns may seem like cool pets, and sure, they might be fun at first (okay, okay, they’re AWESOME at first), but just you wait. Soon you’ll have to deal with all the untold frustrations of a pet unicorn: the scratching, the chewing, the jumping, the burping, and lots and LOTS of damage. And just when you think you’ve got a handle on the tricky business of unicorn ownership, get ready for when your unicorn decides he’s lonely – and conjures up some friends!

What a wonderfully silly story! Between the hilariously exasperated tone of the narrator to the colorful and absurd illustrations of the little boy and his troublesome pet, this was a bunch of fun cover to cover. I liked that they shook up the gender norm a bit and had a boy who was fanatical about unicorns (right up until the unicorn party destroys his house), and JJ and I both loved the absurdly dramatic and fun-to-read text, as well as the rainbow-rific art. The length was great, and JJ had a blast. This one will put a smile on anyone’s face, unicorn-lover or not. Baby Bookworm approved!

Not Quite Narwhal (Jessie Sima)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is the lovely and touching Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima, a story about a little “narwhal” learning about himself and the meaning of family.

Kelp was born under the ocean, but isn’t quite like the other narwhals: his tusk isn’t as long, and he’s not quite as strong a swimmer. Still, he loves his home and his friends, who always make him feel safe and loved. But one day, a strong current sweeps Kelp away from his home. He ends up near an island, where he sees a fabulous creature that looks just like him! He learns that the animal is called a unicorn, and he is one too! The unicorns welcome him gladly, and teach him more about being a unicorn. Yet while Kelp is happy to be with unicorns like him, he misses his narwhal friends in the ocean. Kelp is caught between two worlds – which should he choose?

We LOVED this one. The story was wonderfully sweet, and had a lot of great humor. The illustrations are just adorable, full of colors and charming characters that JJ went crazy over, and the length is perfect. But best of all is the message: there’s nothing wrong with being different, even from your own family. Kelp’s experiences with the narwhals and unicorns can especially be read as a touching allegory for being LGBTQ or adopted, with both communities loving him, even his connection to each bringing the two groups together to bond. It’s a great way to show children that with supportive friends and family, being different can be the very thing that makes you special. It’s a wonderful story wonderfully told, and we loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!