The Return of Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey

Published: 1st October 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Scholastic Australia
Illustrator: Aaron Blabey
Pages: 28
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

The world misses its favourite unicorn, but Thelma is reluctant to don her horn and sparkles again. However, with the support of her best friend Otis, she realises the importance of spreading love and joy — no matter what people think.

This is a great sequel because not only does it address Thelma’s ongoing desire to still be a unicorn and the apprehension she has given her experience last time, but it also solves the question about what the rest of the world did when their favourite unicorn suddenly vanished off the face of the earth.

Otis is back being Thelma’s number one fan and he is a great sounding board for what Thelma should do. He has a bigger role in this one and he is adorable in his love and affection for Thelma.

The argument Blabey makes is an interesting one. What did it matter that she wasn’t a real unicorn? She made people happy and isn’t making people happy a good thing? He balances it out though and Thelma has learnt from her past experiences because while she is scared, Otis grounds her and she remembers to also be herself, they can love her for being her.

Blabley great rhymes are back and I love how he uses the pages and the illustrations to work together in telling the story. There’s anticipation and suspense as you turn the pages, and the rhyming makes sense and with the right rhythm can be read with a nice flow.

The illustrations are big and bold with a lot of full pages and colour that stand out. There’s a few small, fun details too which are nice in the background. One thing Blabey can’t seem to decide on is whether Otis and Thelma wear clothes because seeing it switch from page to page is hilarious.

There is a pop culture reference in there which I get, but it was weird, but I can see people loving it. I think it was the accompanying illustration that weirded me out more than the eye rolling reference but I can’t complain because it’s a kids book after all.

There is a nicer message in this story because Thelma gets to keep being who she loves and she has found a balance in her life with a great support system around her. Otis and Thelma are an adorable pair and Blabey beautiful skirts around whether they are just friends or have gone further. I like he left it vague and I love that he has made a story where he shows Thelma’s dreams are indeed possible with the right kind of attitude and support.

You can purchase The Return of Thelma the Unicorn via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Wordery | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey

Published: 1st February 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Scholastic Australia
Illustrator: Aaron Blabey
Pages: 28
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Thelma is an ordinary pony who longs to be more. Thelma dreams of being a glamorous unicorn. Then in a rare pink and glitter-filled moment of fate, Thelma’s wish comes true. I am special now, she cried out loud. And so, a star was born…

This is a fun story about fame and living your dreams but also about being yourself. Thelma dreams of being a unicorn and through a few fortunate actions her wish is granted. I loved how there’s a wonderful unintended explanation for Thelma becoming a unicorn. A fortunate accident which springboards her fame that is both plausible and silly.

There are many great parts to this story; Otis being supportive of Thelma when she is just a pony, her own realisation that fame may not be all it is cracked up to be, and the fact that she might be happier just being herself is a positive lesson.

This writing has a wonderful rhythm and as you read you get caught up in the creative rhymes and it pushes you along. The text is simple and has a few styled words for emphasis, and it moves around the page to work with the illustrations a little better.

Blabey’s illustrations are quite fun. They are realistic but have a quirkiness to them, helped along by the silly nature of the story. I liked the design of Thelma, it played into her feeling plain, and she doesn’t start out as a standard looking horse but a simple looking pony.

There’s a wonderful message about the troubles and downside of fame which is important, and it shows readers that getting what you want isn’t always the best thing. Blabey doesn’t press the message though, the fun story of Thelma is the focus and the emphasis is on what she learns about herself and her own life.

You can purchase Thelma the Unicorn via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

 

Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman

Published: 7th May 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co.
Illustrator: Heather Fox
Pages: 40
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

What happens when you mix one hungry llama, a big pile of cake and a whole lot of dancing? Get ready to party, because the end of the world is nigh…

This a laugh out loud book which I can attest too as I handed it around at work and watched staff members cover their mouths in an attempt to stifle their unexpected outburst of laughter and not disrupt the entire library. The story is divine, the language is divine, the illustrations are divine. It’s simple, it’s weird, and it’s perfection.

I initially thought this was going to be like The Very Hungry Caterpillar but I was so very wrong. Stutzman has found the sweet spot where humour and story combine and has the right combination of proper narrative, and whatever makes things a hundred times funnier when said with a touch of absurd, surreal nonsense.

The joy of reading this comes from the formatting as well as the story. The tone Stutzman has used as well as the pages containing only one sentence or only a few sentences means you are forced to stop and pause which adds some magnitude. It’s the pace that you read this which makes it quite matter of fact and quite serious, there is a countdown of days as we know what is going to happen (the world ending), we just aren’t sure of how just yet.

The illustrations are fabulous. The expression on Llama’s face, the simple yet telling pictures of cake and world destruction are delightful. There is no need for overly complicated detail or depictions. Fox captures the mood and the disaster, and she does so while embodying Stutzman’s tone. She also beautifully captures the simple, majestic delight that is Llama. I also need to take a moment to thank Fox for immortalising the image of Llama and his groovy butt as he dances in his dancing pants. For that I thank you.

I have already read this book three times and I never tire of it. It’s unexpected, it’s a fairly fast read which works wonderfully for the style Stutzman has gone for in his writing, and the humour is constant. I love Llama and everything he represents.

You can purchase Llama Destroys the World via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Macca’s Makeover by Matt Cosgrove

Published: 1st September 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Scholastic
Illustrator: Matt Cosgrove
Pages: 24
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Macca the Alpaca desperately wants to be cool, just like his friends. Will a new hair-do cut it? Maybe a trip to the gym will work out? Or perhaps he needs the latest accessories?

Maccas makeover shows him what it is that makes him truly special.

Our favourite alpaca is back and this time he is in for a new look. Worried he might not be cool, Macca enlists the help of his friends to try and improve himself. The story is told in fabulous rhymes which flow wonderfully and are super fun to read to yourself or aloud.

Cosgrove shows off two great points in this adventure; that it is ok to try new things, but also that you shouldn’t feel like you need to change to be liked or a person you think others expect you to be. Macca shows you that it is ok to be nice and kind and being a certain type of “cool” doesn’t have to be what you strive to be.

The illustrations are bright and colourful and Cosgrove makes great use of the space whether it is with full page illustrations or something simpler. They also wonderfully work well with the text as the formatting and layout impacts how the story is read and even something as font can help with the fun.

Cosgrove’s stunning pencil illustrations are things I could stare at all day. I love his designs and see Macca’s big beautiful eyes and adorable face undergo new hairstyles, and seeing him try various things to be “cool” is funny and Cosgrove makes his illustrations look plausible and I can imagine an alpaca doing these things can be. Plus the expressions on Macca’s face are wild and so much fun you can’t help but love him.

This is another perfect Macca book; it is fun, has a positive message, and brings together all your favourite Macca pals in style.

You can purchase Macca’s Makeover via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

There’s an Alien in your Book by Tom Fletcher

Published: 16th May 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Puffin
Illustrator: Greg Abbott
Pages: 35
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Tom Fletcher and Greg Abbott have created a new interactive adventure, this time featuring an adorable alien who has crash-landed in YOUR book!

You’ll have to help Alien back up into space, because aliens don’t belong on Earth . . . do they?

What I love about Fletcher’s books is how interactive they are. They require you to blow on pages, turn the book upside down, or pretend to draw on the pages. This time an alien has crashed into our book and we have to help him get home.

I love how the narration openly speaks to the reader and asks them to participate. It makes the alien into a real creature who is tampering and having consequences in and on the book itself. The text moves and changes as the narrative instructs so if you don’t follow along you may find it hard to read if you haven’t turned the book upside down, and it certainly is a lot more fun if it feels like your actions have an effect on the alien.

Abbott’s illustrations are a stand out once again. The adorableness of his creations are one reason why I love these books. While Fletcher’s words and instructions are entertaining, there is an extra level added by seeing the character react to these actions.

The story teaches kids about being helpful and also that everyone deserves to belong no matter what they look like. Being unique and different is not a bad thing and I love that Fletcher doesn’t leave it vague, he makes a point and then changes his mind to make the message clear.

If you loved having fun with Fletcher’s dragon and his monster than you will certainly love this story as well, especially since there is a nice surprise cross over.

You can purchase There’s an Alien in Your Book via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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