Elem. – Pretty Perfect Kitty-Corn

Hale, Shannon. Pretty Perfect Kitty-Corn. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2022. 978-1-419-75093-9. Unpaged. $18.99. K-2.

Everyone thinks Unicorn is perfect. Therefore, Unicorn does his best to pose flawlessly and majestically when his best friend, Kitty-Corn, decides to paint him. In doing so, however, Unicorn unknowingly sits in some paint. When he sees his portrait, he is mortified to discover that Kitty-Corn has captured his painted bum on canvas! Unicorn feels ashamed and inadequate, and he begins to wonder whether Kitty will even want to be his friend anymore. Beautiful, vibrant illustrations accompany this sweet, silly story about friendship.

THOUGHTS: Fans of Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn (2021) will devour this adorable new story featuring their favorite duo. Also, this title would be an excellent choice for story time. Not only is the story humorous and entertaining, but it gives young children a lot to think about and discuss. Readers quickly will realize that looks aren’t everything, and true friends love us in spite of our flaws. Additionally, even people who seem to have it all together can sometimes feel sad, and that’s why kindness is so important. All of these subtle messages conveyed throughout the story make this book an excellent choice for all elementary collections.

Picture Book          Julie Ritter, PSLA Member

Elem. – Donut: The Unicorn Who Wants to Fly

Gehl, Laura. Donut: The Unicorn Who Wants to Fly. Illustrated by Andrea Zuill. Random House Studio, 2022. 978-0-593-37625-6. $17.99. 40 p. Grades PK-2.

Unicorn fans will be thrilled with this new title. Donut is a wingless unicorn with a rainbow horn who desperately wants to fly. Donut tries many flying strategies but is unable to fly. A pair of bunnies and a flock of friendly birds help Donut to achieve the ultimate goal through a series of amusing plans. Eventually Donut is successful, with a little help from the woodland friends. Told in minimal rhyming language with bright ink drawings by illustrator Andrea Zuill, this is a fun and fantastic read aloud. 

THOUGHTS: Absolutely adorable. The pictures combined with only a few words of text tell a delightful story of grit, ingenuity, persistence, and teamwork. There are many possible STEAM activity tie-ins with this selection.

Picture Book          Anne McKernan, Council Rock SD

Elem. – Perfectly Pegasus

Sima, Jessie. Perfectly Pegasus. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022. 978-1-534-49717-7. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades PreK-2.

Nimbus is a pegasus who loves living in the sky, where she can fly among the clouds, slide down rainbows, and wish upon stars. However, she sometimes finds herself feeling lonely. One night, when she spots a shooting star, she begins to wish for companionship. Unfortunately, the star falls out of sight before she can finish her wish, so she decides to follow it. When she reaches the ground, the bright sun makes finding her star prove especially difficult, but she finds something else instead: friends! Eventually, Nimbus heads back to the sky in search of her star, only to realize that perhaps her wish already came true.

THOUGHTS: Young readers will adore the friendly, mythical cast of characters in this story, which includes unicorns, narwhals, and (of course) a pegasus. Fans of Sima’s companion title, Not Quite Narwhal (2017), will especially love this latest installment. This heartwarming tale of friendship is sure to be popular with young children.

Picture Book          Julie Ritter, PSLA Member

Elem./MG – Skandar and the Unicorn Thief

Steadman, A. F. Skandar and the Unicorn Thief. Simon and Schuster,  2022. 978-1-665-91500-7. 448 p. $18.99. Grades 4-7.

If you are like most people, you think of unicorns as beautiful, sparkly creatures, possibly with rainbow poop. Skandar knows the truth: unicorns are nasty, carnivorous creatures who would sooner eat you than warmly nuzzle you. Yet Skandar, like all his 13-year-old friends, is anxiously awaiting exam day, the day when Mainlander students find out who will be chosen to go to the Island where the unicorns live, bond with a newly hatched unicorn and become a revered unicorn rider. To Skandar’s horror, everything seems to fall apart the morning of the exam. Yet, that night, a mysterious rider appears at his home, whisking him off to the island under a cloak of secrecy. Skandar successfully hatches a unicorn, begins training, and makes three close friends, but Skandar carries a secret burden he fears will get him exiled from the community. This thrilling, action-packed adventure takes elements of Harry Potter and Star Wars and creates an unforgettable start to a new series. The boarding school setting (the coolest boarding school ever – set in tree houses) provides opportunity for friendship building, as well as the requisite bully to threaten the peace. There is an evil haunting the Island that only Skandar can confront. And then there are the unicorns. Steadman shines with the world building of the unicorns. They are way cooler than traditional unicorns. Scary, dangerous, and potentially evil, but definitely worth the risk. The rider-unicorn bond is to be envied. The conclusion of the book definitely signals sequels. Skandar cues white, but his close friends include brown-skinned Mitchell and Bobby with a Spanish mother. Incidental students are a variety of ethnicities. 

THOUGHTS: This unique fantasy should fly off the shelves. For students too young to read Diana Peterfrund’s Killer Unicorn series, Skandar will be a delightful introduction to less-cutesy creatures. This can’t-put-down epic should be a first purchase where fantasy books are popular. 

Fantasy        Nancy Nadig  Penn Manor SD

Elem. – Nerdycorn

Root, Andrew. Nerdycorn. Beach Lane Books, 2021. 978-1-534-46005-8. 32 p. $17.99 Grades K-2. 

Nerdycorn follows a unicorn named Fern who loves science, experiments, and coding her computer. However the other unicorns love rainbows, glitter, and parties.  They tease Fern and don’t include her in their parties; however, they all ask for her help when something breaks. Fern doesn’t mind being a good friend and helping, until one day she does mind. The big Sparkle Dance Party needs her to help fix things, and she initially refuses. However, she changes her mind and ends up helping. This causes the other unicorns to apologize and then end up learning some things from Fern. The illustrations in this book fit perfectly with the story as they are bright, colorful, and full of sparkle (just like the unicorns).

THOUGHTS: This is a great addition to an elementary school library collection and would be a great read aloud for a career week or empathy focused lesson.

Picture Book          Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy

MG – One Year at Ellsmere

Hicks, Faith Erin. One Year at Ellsmere. First Second, 2020.  978-1-250-21909-1. 166 p. $19.97. Grades 5-8.

Juniper knows she will not fit in at her fancy new private school–child of a single mother, lower income, scholarship student–and she is prepared. She is at Ellsmere for the academics, and if her classmates don’t like her, that’s just fine. She probably won’t like them either. So it is no surprise when she lands on the radar of mean girl Emily. Jun thinks she can handle her, but this time she may have met her match. Luckily, Jun has her roommate, Cassie, as a friend and ally. She will need her if she is going to survive her first year at Ellsmere.

THOUGHTS: Perfect for fans of Smile and Jennifer L. Holm’s Sunny books who are looking for something a little darker with more drama. There are some fantastical elements at the end that are not really necessary, but overall it’s a good add for a middle school graphic novel section.

Graphic Novel          Melissa Johnston, North Allegheny SD