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Review of You DON’T Want a Unicorn

dyckman_you don't want a unicornYou DON’T Want a Unicorn
by Ame Dyckman; illus. by Liz Climo
Primary    Little, Brown    40 pp.
2/17    978-0-316-34347-3    $16.99    g

Dyckman and Climo’s tongue-in-cheek exposé reveals the “reality” of life with a unicorn. And the truth is a lot less wonderful than pro-unicorn propaganda (magic! rainbows! glitter!) would have you believe. The story begins in a peaceful-looking park where a plush unicorn–toting child walks onto the scene sporting an “I ♥ Unicorns” shirt. On the next page, the kid approaches a fountain with coin in hand, while the offstage narrator calls out, “‘WAIT!’” Guessing what the unicorn-fancier’s wish will be, the narrator tries to intervene, but — “plip” — too late. The kid wishes a unicorn into being; the narrator, after admitting that having a unicorn is undeniably “awesome,” presents the case for “it’s not worth it.” Climo’s rainbow-bright illustrations take Dyckman’s silly premise to a whole new level of absurdity. With the narrator’s dialogue serving as the text, characters’ reactions are displayed in the cleanly rendered art. This is a crowd-pleaser, complete with cupcake poops and rainbow burps, and the beleaguered kid dealing with the chaos and mess. You’d think the message here is “be careful what you wish for,” and it is, sort of, although our young hero clearly hasn’t learned that at book’s end. Along with all the rainbows (burps and all), there’s a welcoming and unobtrusive gender-nonconforming vibe. The child looks boyish (but isn’t specifically identified), which telegraphs that liking sparkly unicorns is open to all. And that is a message you DO want.

From the January/February 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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