Clichéd but attractive to its target audience.

TWELVE DANCING UNICORNS

What is the secret of the 12 unicorns?

In this horned-and-hooved variant on “The 12 Dancing Princesses,” a benevolent king highly prizes his unicorns, feeling a special kinship with them. Every day, a goldsmith forges new chains to keep them from running away. But every morning, the king finds the chains broken and the unicorns sleeping soundly in their corral. Villagers come from miles around to observe them, none more lovingly than a certain little girl who adores the smallest unicorn. The king decrees that whoever can discover the secret of the broken chains will win a prize of his choosing. The girl’s mother gives her a magic cloak made of gossamer, and that night, she slips between the slats of the fence unnoticed by the guards. At the stroke of midnight, the unicorns shake their heads in unison, and the guards freeze. The girl watches in fascination as the unicorns dig a deep hole, which leads to a tunnel and their escape. Fairies follow as they gallop through beautiful glades; the girl rides the smallest. She reports to the king, declaring that freedom for the unicorns will be her prize, and he gives the smallest unicorn to her as a gift. Gerard supplies dreamlike illustrations to accompany this wish-fulfillment story for little girls, and there’s much rococo embellishment both in the design and the storytelling.

Clichéd but attractive to its target audience. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4027-8732-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text.

BO'S MAGICAL NEW FRIEND

From the Unicorn Diaries series , Vol. 1

A unicorn learns a friendship lesson in this chapter-book series opener.

Unicorn Bo has friends but longs for a “bestie.” Luckily, a new unicorn pops into existence (literally: Unicorns appear on especially starry nights) and joins Bo at the Sparklegrove School for Unicorns, where they study things like unicorn magic. Each unicorn has a special power; Bo’s is granting wishes. Not knowing what his own might be distresses new unicorn Sunny. When the week’s assignment is to earn a patch by using their unicorn powers to help someone, Bo hopes Sunny will wish to know Bo's power (enabling both unicorns to complete the task, and besides, Bo enjoys Sunny’s company and wants to help him). But when the words come out wrong, Sunny thinks Bo was feigning friendship to get to grant a wish and earn a patch, setting up a fairly sophisticated conflict. Bo makes things up to Sunny, and then—with the unicorns friends again and no longer trying to force their powers—arising circumstances enable them to earn their patches. The cheerful illustrations feature a sherbet palette, using patterns for texture; on busy pages with background colors similar to the characters’ color schemes, this combines with the absence of outlines to make discerning some individual characters a challenge. The format, familiar to readers of Elliott’s Owl Diaries series, uses large print and speech bubbles to keep pages to a manageable amount of text.

A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32332-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Encouragement for moguls-to-be and fun for everyone else.

IT BEGAN WITH LEMONADE

A young entrepreneur is ready to sell homemade lemonade, but everyone else has already staked out the best spots.

The nameless narrator rolls a colorful stand through the diverse city neighborhood and just keeps on going until reaching the countryside. Pushing it up a hill, the kid loses control, and the tall stand with the lemon on top goes careening through the woods until it finally stops near a river. Unexpectedly, a customer arrives! The kid serves up, and then a steady stream of customers float by: an octopus, two alligators, a sea monster, a diver in an old-fashioned helmet, and more. The kid needs to make more lemonade on the spot. After selling out and trudging home, the kid sleeps through the night dreaming about a future riverside lemonade empire. Careful readers will spot many reminders of the adventure in the kid’s bedroom. A toy octopus’s tentacles overflow from a chest, a diver’s helmet sits on the floor, pictures of sea animals and boats adorn the walls. The lines between reality and fantasy blur…but the tip jar is full. Bright cartoon illustrations are full of funny details (the lemonade-stand sign smiles and frowns expressively), and the alliterative text begs to be read aloud: “I sat for a long while, feeling terrible as a turnip,” the kid grumps at one point. The narrator has textured black hair and a ruddy complexion. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Encouragement for moguls-to-be and fun for everyone else. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2828-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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