Are you a Sea Unicorn or a Land Narwhal?
When I go in to see any of my patients, I usually ask them if they like to read and what they are reading. I know I'm not the only pediatrician to promote reading in her office--the wonderful Reach Out and Read program is a testament to that. I love finding out what interests young readers and non-readers.
Lately the book that I recommend the most** is Not Quite Narwhal, written and illustrated by Jessie Sima. Why this book in particular? Well, several times a week I have unicorns that come visit me in the office. It's true! Usually they are Unicorn Vans (rad) or unicorn tee-shirts or sometimes even unicorn friends (very well-loved ones. Yes, I'm thinking of a special patient in particular--you know who you are).
And, every time I see a unicorn in my office, I ask them if they are a sea unicorn or land narwhal. Or if they have read Not Quite Narwhal or Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Most kids haven't heard of either, I'm afraid.
Not Quite Narwhal tells the tale of a unicorn who grows up under the sea. Kelp feels a bit out of place, but his fellow narwhal family has always accepted him for what he is. One day he stumbles upon land and realizes that he isn't a narwhal. The illustrations are wonderful and Kelp is the cutest little sea unicorn ever.
Do I think every book has to have a lesson? NO. That's a full shouty cap 'NO'. I think picture books can be simply for enjoyment too. (Art for art's sake and all that.) However, I do admire when the sub-text can teach a young reader (or adult reader) a valuable life lesson as well as entertain. Not Quite Narwhal teaches so much about acceptance and family (or even adopted families), while also being whimsical and cute and telling a good story. Oh, and good illustration, complete with a sparkly book jacket to boot.
I just hope there's a sequel with that rhino on the end pages.... I have a special place in my heart for rhinos, especially as that's what we used to call Little Lion at home when she was a toddler.
Little Lion's Review: I love the book Not Quite Narwhal because a lot of people think narwhals are sea unicorns even though they aren't. I love the ending where everyone is really happy and understands everything. The book is kind of a question and has a preview for the next book. So if you want to you can go buy the book. (Yes, I typed exactly what she dictated.)
Rating: This book is living in our 'book box' right now, which is the equivalent of deserving a place on the floor. My house is messy and I'm trying to reign it in. So I placed a book box for us to place current reads in so that they are not scattered on the floor.
Ages: Sea unicorn tots and land narwhal tots on up. Also known as age 3 or so and up.
** The book I actually recommend most in my day-to-day happens to be The Care and Keeping of You by Valorie Schaefer. It's a 'body book' for young girls ages 8 and up and the second book is for girls age 10 and up. Both books are age appropriate (with appropriate illustrations) about puberty, body changes, hygiene, and emotional changes. It's published by The American Girl company and I've found that it is a great resource for girls. I haven't found a good equivalent for boys yet, though I'm sure there is one out there. Feel free to contact me if you have a suggestion.