cover image Not Quite Narwhal

Not Quite Narwhal

Jessie Sima. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-6909-8

Kelp has a narwhal-like horn, but it’s kind of short, and he has trouble swimming like the other narwhals. On land, he discovers why: he’s a unicorn. (Kelp has a transparent diving helmet, so breathing underwater is no problem.) Fortunately, both unicorns and narwhals accept him warmly: “he didn’t have to choose.” Newcomer Sima’s plot holds few surprises—it’s pretty much a standard-issue, born-in-the-wrong-family tale—but their adorable characters trigger smiles throughout, whether it’s the newborn Kelp tucked snugly into a sea scallop or unicorns using their horns to toast marshmallows. Vignettes show Kelp unsuccessfully imitating crabs (“Oof”) and frogs (“Ow”) as he tries learning to walk, reassuring readers that they’re not the only ones who struggle to master new skills. By contrast, the text eschews cuteness for dry humor: “Land narwhals!” exclaims Kelp upon seeing unicorns for the first time. “Actually we’re unicorns,” says an adult, as the other unicorns cavort through rainbows and freshets of clear water. “And by the looks of it, so are you!” Naturally, the story concludes with a festive party for both single-horned species. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary. (Feb.) [/em]