Review: Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

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Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Brigette Barrager

Released August 26, 2014.

Do you believe in unicorns?  One might expect the main question of this book to be just that, but instead it’s a question of whether unicorns should believe in little girls.  Uni was a normal unicorn in most ways.  She may have had extra sparkly eyes and her mane may be extra luxurious, but she could heal with her horn like the others and make wishes come true too.  But the one thing that made Uni different was that she believed that little girls were actually real!  Her parents just smiled at her when she insisted little girls were real and her friends laughed at her.  But Uni just knew that somewhere in the world was a little girl just for her.  And out in the world, there was.

Rosenthal has written a book with a surprise twist that makes it fresh and radiant.  Using the unicorn as the heart of the book and indisputably real is a delightful way to approach this mythical beast.  Rosenthal writes that both the unicorn and the girl are looking for a friend who is “strong smart wonderful magical.”  The emphasis on that rather than beauty is appreciated, particularly in a book about unicorns. 

Barrager’s art is lush and colorful.  Her digital illustrations feel like pop art with their modern edge.  Showing Uni longing for her little girl by reading books and drawing pictures is a clever and clear way to tie her to the little girls who may be longing for a unicorn.

I’m not a huge unicorn fan and hate drippy books that are too sweet.  Unicorn fans will adore this book and those of us on the lookout for books that are saccharine will be pleasantly surprised.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from ARC received from Random House Children’s Books.

Smoking Hot Controversy

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The Scarecrow’s Wedding by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler has garnered some criticism from parents for having an evil scarecrow who smokes.  Evidently, it’s not enough that the bad guy is the one smoking, nor that the other characters actually say out loud that smoking is bad, but just the image of a cigar is enough to cause concern for children.

I have a copy of the book and wanted to see what the fuss was about.  I must admit I was surprised at how clearly smoking was dealt with as something bad and then that even the bad guy doesn’t really successfully smoke.  I’ve taken a picture of the page in question, and honestly it is just a single page in the entire book.  This way you can make up your mind if it’s appropriate for your school, library or children.

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I also appreciate the fact that the cigar is actually part of the plot.  When it falls from Reginald’s hand, it starts a fire that is important to the progress of the story. 

So what do you think?  Should children’s books have smoking in them?  Is it ever OK?