Professor Glitter Pants (Grand Unistorian), Professor Sprinkle Steed (Doctor of Magic), Professor Star Hoof (Rainbowmetrics Specialist) and Professor Sugar Beard (Certified Hornologist). These unicorn masterminds – with the help of their trusty lab assistant, Pete – are here to bring the facts, settle the mysteries, and show us what the deal is with unicorns.
This faux nonfiction book about unicorns is chock-full of fun, fake facts to add to the proliferation of sparkly modern unicorn books for kids. Four “unicorn experts” (themselves being unicorns) break the fourth wall to tell the reader all about their majestic, wonderful kind. With sections on topics such as “Unicorn History”, “Diet and Digestion”, and “Habitat and Homes”, you will learn all the “Unicorn Science” you never knew you needed to know (“Common name: Unicorn, Scientific name: Betterthan horsicus… Weight: 40,000 gummy bears…Life span: Super long”).
The illustrations are bright, colourful, silly, and detailed. You will find muscular unicorns with cleft chins and bulging biceps, cool unicorns with sunglasses and luscious, flowing manes, intelligent, bespectacled unicorns wearing lab coats, and a baby unicorn that is “cuteness overload” (think Pinecone’s flatulent pet in Kate Beaton’s The Princess and the Pony). There is a lot to look at, and kids will enjoy pouring over the pages, finding new things to giggle about as they read the book again and again (try saying the name “Sparks Sprinkletoot” to a five-year-old and see if they can keep it together).
A full-page illustration with the prompt, “See if you can spot the unicorns!”, offers a fun search-and-seek aspect to the book as readers have to navigate among comedic trip-ups such as other animals with horns and antlers, an orangutan wearing a pylon hat, a seal with an upside-down ice cream cone on its head, a narwhal, and a plain old ear of corn. The last section of the book is a “Graduation Celebration” where readers receive a diploma announcing them to be a “unicorn scientist” (“Go forth and be proud, knowing that you are one of the majestic, the magical, the super rad”).
In Atkinson’s world, unicorns fuel their cars with rainbows, poop cupcakes, and settle arguments through dance-offs. It’s not necessarily the type of unicorn fiction I personally gravitate towards, preferring books on mythical creatures that treat the subject matter with a classic sense of wonder and reverence, exploring the uncanny ubiquitous nature of mythical creatures in folklore around the world and throughout history. Having said that, Unicorns 101 is undeniable rollicking good fun.
Andrea Zorzi is a librarian working for Toronto Public Library in Ontario.