Thelma the unicorn by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic, 2015. ISBN 9781743625804
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Cautionary tale, Fame, Self perception, Image, Rhyming story. Thelma would love to be something else. She looks longingly at the beautiful horse nearby and resolves that she wants to be a unicorn. Her friend Oscar tells her that she is beautiful as she is, but she resists. Finding a carrot she places it on her head and quite by chance a truck spills its load of sparkles and pink paint nearby. She has achieved the look she wants. In rhyming stanzas Blabey sets out his tale of self image.
Having achieved fame, she basks in it for a while, receiving the crowds' admiration and adoration. But she soon realises that there is another side of fame; that fans see her as their property and can invade her privacy whenever they wish. She becomes concerned at their insistence and then their derision and returns to Oscar, a wiser and much happier little horse.
This is an old story given such a new twist by Blabey that kids will pick it up and read it with a great deal of pleasure. They will instantly understand the theme being presented and relate it to stories they know about celebrities and fans. Discussions in the classroom could cover a wide range of stories concerning fame and fandom, as well as self image and perception, and why people think there is a better way of being. This could lead into many different discussions about the media and its impact on our lives, but particularly about how we feel about ourselves.
Blabey's illustrations are always fascinating, with swathes of colour and light across each page, and expressive animals and humans adorning the pages. It is fun to recognise situations students will have seen in the media (Princess Di caught out in her exercise gear, for example) and it will intrigue readers when they find little things within the pictures that exemplify the theme.