Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, February 17, 2017

You Were Warned...

The thing about wishes and wishing is they can be a tricky enterprise.  When we wish for something we tend to think of the outcome and not how it is achieved or what may happen if and when a wish comes true.  It's hard to remember it's a rarity if something happens in isolation; good or bad, there are consequences.

Nevertheless if we see a falling star, the first star of the night, or witness a rainbow or when it's 11:11 on the clock, we pull a turkey bone, we find a penny, or when we blow out birthday candles on our cake, we will be making a wish.  You Don't Want a UNICORN! (Little, Brown And Company, February 14, 2017) written by Ame Dyckman with illustrations by Liz Climo is an adventure in the unexpected.  It can be said this is a ride on the wild side filled with first-rate hilarity.

You were gonna wish for a unicorn, weren't you?
Wishing for a unicorn is a 

An unseen narrator continues to offer advice but the little guy, clearly a huge fan of the mythical beast, lets go of his coin.  Within mere seconds of it dropping beneath the fountain waters,


A unicorn of his dreams springs forth from a blaze of rainbows.  The voice continues with dread dripping from every word.

It would be safe to say the boy, riding upon the back of his new friend, does not heed one single syllable.  His wildest dream has come true.  When they arrive inside his home, the joy becomes tinged with problems, HUGE problems.  Did you know unicorns shed gold glitter?  And it sticks to everything...like glue.

If you think house-breaking a puppy is difficult, unicorns can't learn.  (You'll never look at a cupcake the same way again.)  You'll have to be extra careful giving them anything carbonated to drink.  Their burps are an explosion of color with no pot of gold at the end.  Just when you believe you might be able to handle all these "little" idiosyncrasies, the biggest surprise of all pays you a visit again and again and again and again.

Thankfully the narrator has continued to offer wisdom.  His final words must be heeded to undo what has been done.  It's not going to be easy.  Whew!  OH! NO! WAIT!

Using an unseen narrator to tell this story is sheer genius on the part of author Ame Dyckman.  The words she selects to use and their delivery make us active participants in this story.  Before the fourth sentence is even finished you will be laughing... guaranteed.  How many times have you warned a child not to do something and before the sound of your warning has faded away, they've done that very thing?

The cadence in which the narrator speaks through purposeful punctuation gives the story splendid pacing.  The repeated use of

Trust me.

increases the comedic effect.  It will also have you wondering why this particular narrator seems to be so well-informed about wishing and unicorns.  Here is the continuation of the first part.

Just step away and---
Things are about to get--- (page turn)
Trust me.

All of the illustrations rendered

with digital magic

are animated with a high laughter factor on the dust jacket, book case and pages in bright cheerful colors.  The expression on the boy's face on the front of the jacket most definitely matches the title but we are not sure yet why or how the unicorn and boy are currently together.  The unicorn and the word Unicorn shimmer when tipped back and forth in the light.  To the left, on the back, with a purple background, the seated unicorn is burping a burst of color which bleeds over the spine.

The book case is an interior picture on a background of white.  Extra text with arrows has been added.  My lips are sealed as to the content of this image.  On the opening and closing endpapers, amid turquoise, pink, green and orange clouds (eighteen in total), are unicorns in various attire with unique physical characteristics.  There is a distinct difference between the two sets of endpapers reflecting the conclusion of the story.  (Tiny spots on these illustrations shimmer too.)

A large double-page picture provides the canvas for the title page as well as beginning the story.  Three children are playing in a park with a fountain.  Liz Climo alternates between two-page visuals, single page pictures and smaller pictures on one page to match and elevate the narrative's rhythm.  The characters stand out on the crisp white paper with few other details in the scenes colored.  The expressions on the boy's face match his every emotion and the activities of the unicorn.

One of my favorite illustrations is on a single page with a white background.  The unicorn is standing tall, golden horn surrounded by vivid sparkles.  Next to him is the boy grinning.  His eyes are wide open with happiness.  There is pink frosting in his hair and on his I ♥ Unicorns t-shirt.  They are both looking at the next page where the first of several surprises has appeared.  You just know from previous moments that this happiness is short-lived.

I have been smiling since I first read this book, when I read it again and as I was writing this post.  I can't help it.  You Don't Want a UNICORN written by Ame Dyckman with illustrations by Liz Climo is filled with laugh out loud episodes from beginning to the oh-uh end.  It's about wishing, learning and hope.  You have to hope that your next wish might be a little bit different.  Right?  I can already hear the requests for read it again.

To learn more about Ame Dyckman and Liz Climo and their other work please visit their websites by following the links attached to their names.  At the publisher's website you can download a storytime kit. John Schumacher, Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, featured the cover reveal and book trailer premiere on his blog, Watch. Connect. Read.  You have to read and watch both of these!

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