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book review

Thelma the Unicorn

By Aaron Blabey, Scholastic Canada, 28 pages, $14.99

Shortly after wishing she were a unicorn and sticking a carrot to her nose, ordinary pony Thelma is involved in a freak 18-wheeler accident that covers her in pink glue and glitter. To the naked eye she is really is a unicorn, which makes her famous. That's the problem with fame in a media culture: the difference between what's authentically real and what becomes real through perception is extraordinarily blurred. This is Thelma's insight. It's also what transforms this book from being just become another "be careful what you wish for" story into an excellent modern fable. We loved it!

If I Had A Gryphon

By Vikki VanSickle, illustrated by Cale Atkinson, Tundra, 32 pages, $19.99

Phoenix and Frida want a pet, badly. I keep telling them that they're not ready for this sort of responsibility. The truth is I'm not prepared to have our home invaded by a small, smelly, furry something. I'm not even willing to go as far as the parents from this book, who give their daughter a hamster. Unimpressed, the girl imagines life with more exciting pets, mainly of the mythical Greek variety. It's a delightful book, even if it prompted Frida to use the argument that, "It's not like we want a hippogriff or anything." I told her we already have a Phoenix.

Here Comes Valentine Cat

By Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda, Dial Books for Young Readers, 88 pages, $21.99

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and what better antidote against obligatory displays of affection than a grumpy cat who hates his neighbour? True enough, Cat's neighbour is a dog who barks a lot and throws bones and balls over their shared fence. What Cat eventually comes to realize is that Dog isn't lobbing these items as insults but presents. The idea that love – whether neighbourly or something higher-stakes – is in the interpretation becomes a perfect sentiment for the season. Phoenix and Frida and I wish you all a happy Valentine's Day!