And if readers learn a lesson about humility along the way? That’s just the icing on Unicorn’s flaming birthday cakes.

UNICORN IS MAYBE NOT SO GREAT AFTER ALL

Following Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great (2013), the extra-special equine is back for the first day of school, and he’s having trouble with the fact that he doesn’t stand out in the crowd.

Thinking quite highly of himself, Unicorn is confident on the first day, while best friend Goat suffers from “contractually obligated first-day jitters.” But later, their situations are reversed. Unicorn is chagrined that all anyone can focus on are “rubber bands that look like other things” (Shea skewers the decade-old Silly Bandz craze). Unicorn decides to regain the spotlight with a new, improved version of himself: He’ll be a “new-nicorn,” complete with rainbow wig and fake tail, colored contacts, “horn enhancer,” and an attitude and personality to match. His friends’ reactions don’t faze him in the slightest: “Why are you drawn like that?” a pig speculates metafictively. But his narcissism and lack of respect for other people’s space and boundaries mean he tromps (sometimes literally) all over his peers. “Go home, Unicorn!” A depressed and depressing day at home ends with the doorbell: Unicorn’s friends have missed him even though he’s “been super-annoying.” Hysterical side commentary and even funnier details in the cartoon illustrations will keep readers coming back again and again for more of Shea’s irreverent, tongue-in-cheek humor.

And if readers learn a lesson about humility along the way? That’s just the icing on Unicorn’s flaming birthday cakes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-00944-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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WE ARE IN A BOOK!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Stalwart friends Piggie and Gerald the elephant push the metafictive envelope in a big way when they realize that "someone is looking at us." Is it a monster? worries Gerald. "No," replies the squinting Piggie. "It is... / a reader! / A reader is reading us!" How? wonders Gerald. Piggie drapes herself on a word bubble to demonstrate: "We are in a book!" "THAT IS SO COOL!" Joy leads to a little bit of clever practical joking—Piggie figures out how to make the readers say "banana" out loud, and hilarity ensues—which gives way to existential angst: "The book ends?!" exclaims an appalled Gerald. Emergent readers just beginning to grapple one-on-one with the rules of the printed codex will find the friends' antics both funny and provocative: Just who is in control here, anyway? As always, Willems displays his customary control of both body language and pacing even as he challenges his readers to engage with his characters and the physicality of their book . The friends' solution to the book's imminent end? "Hello. Will you please read us again?" You bet. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3308-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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