THE UNICORN CAME TO DINNER by Lauren DeStefano is a story about change and how one girl deals with it…for a while. Like many children who have emotions that feel too big or powerful to deal with, Elizabeth has found a fantastical way to handle her feelings: She becomes something else! As the titular unicorn leaves behind a mess, is rude and grumpy to Elizabeth’s parents, and complains about having to eat carrots, the parents are patient and understanding. By playing along with Elizabeth as a unicorn, her parents walk the fine line of supporting and keeping basic expectations in tact. In the end, Elizabeth finds that she has the ability to adapt without becoming a unicorn.
Young readers and listeners will love the swirling, colorful unicorn mane and tail and caregivers will appreciate the exasperated but loving faces of Elizabeth’s parents, including a line that explains that “Mom closed her eyes and counted to five.” The collage-style illustrations, by Gaia Cornwall, suit the fantastical story with myriad patterns and strong pastel colors. This storybook will become a naptime and bedtime staple for children who love naughty but lovable unicorns.
review by Kristin Wald