Sugarlump and the Unicorn, Written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Lydia Monks, Pan Macmillan Children's Books, 32 pages, $19.99
This was Frida's pick, and Phoenix and I were extremely skeptical. Was it the unicorn on the cover? Maybe the promise of "glitter on every page?" We needn't have worried. While Sugarlump and the Unicorn is definitely a little unicorny, it is unapologetically so and works wonderfully because of this.
Sugarlump, a rocking horse, is the favorite toy of a brother and sister, but he wants to see the big, wide world. A glittery blue-eyed unicorn arrives and grants his wishes – to be a farmer's horse and then a racehorse and then a circus horse! But when Sugarlump finally wishes to go home, so much time has passed that the kids have grown up and, sadly, forgotten him.
Of course the unicorn, glitter and all, shows up and grants a happy ending. But it's earned and feels genuine. A wonderful story about daring to find your true place in the world.
The Worm, By Elise Gravel, Tundra Books, 32 pages, $12.99
Writing a science book for kids is tricky – finding the balance between pushing the facts without overplaying the gross-out is tough. Elise Gravel's The Worm pulls this off. The friendly-looking yet anatomically correct worm on the cover attracted Phoenix instantly. His attention continued inside as Gravel presented a perfect sequence of fascinating facts with a delicate dash of icky. All three of us learned something, such has how earthworms move by contracting and expanding, and that some worms can be as long as 35 meters long! It's part of a series and we're hoping the other books are just as good.
The Most Magnificent Thing, Written and illustrated by Ashley Spires, Kids Can Press, 32 pages, $16.95
Quite often the hardest thing about daring to undertake a creative endeavor, or any endeavor, is living up to your own standards. The Most Magnificent Thing captures the ups and downs of the creative process perfectly. Helped by her dog/assistant, a regular girl sets out to make something magnificent, finding the task much more difficult than anticipated. The book tackles the frustration and repeated failures that all of us experience on the road to accomplishment. Spires captures something that's a huge part of every kid's daily life with honesty and even a little elegance.