cover image Layla, the Last Black Unicorn

Layla, the Last Black Unicorn

Tiffany Haddish and Jerdine Nolen, illus. by Jessica Gibson. HarperCollins, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-311387-9

Layla, a jet-black unicorn with a curly gray mane, has had a fun summer exploring her home of Overlook Woods in this picture book by Haddish and Nolen. But when she starts school for the first time at Unicornia, her confidence is badly shaken: the cliquey, pastel-colored unicorns all seem to know one another, and they quickly dub Layla both “newbie” and “woodsy.” After two awkward, lonely days, a forest field trip presents Layla with the opportunity to become class hero, when she rescues a teacher from the Ouchie Wowchie Shrub and calls on a friend—a huge minotaur—to help her class find their way back to school. It’s a familiar story whose messaging feels shoehorned into often twee prose (“They just don’t know how special you are yet... your time to shine will come”), but in Gibson’s fanciful, textured art, Layla has both determination and style to spare. Ages 4–8. (May)