When Little Unicorn feels an unpleasant emotion, he uses a breathing technique to overcome it.
This translated French import features a unicorn with a magical mane, which changes color to show exactly what emotion he’s feeling. Negative emotions are presented as problems to be solved. An unadorned, didactic narrative explains that Little Unicorn had an argument with friends, and this is why he is feeling a sadness like “a giant gray cloud in his head.” His solution is to do a breathing exercise, which is presented step by step for readers on the following pages. Companion title Little Unicorn Is Shy also follows this format. The illustrations are sparse, a small patch of color in a sea of white space, in which white unicorns differentiated mostly by mane and tale patterns are depicted. Unfortunately, rather than being the tools for self-regulation these books clearly strive to be, they create a sense that challenging emotions are problems children should be responsible for fixing. The breathing exercises are presented as solutions to the problematic emotions, but there is no explanation or context provided to support their effectiveness, which is questionable. For example, the breathing exercise presented in Little Unicorn Is Shy includes a portion of breath retention, which can actually be anxiety-producing in young children.
Give this emotional-literacy offering a pass. (Picture book. 4-8)