While It’s Okay to Be a Unicorn! is a fun and quirky story, it has been done before. The theme of be yourself and being different is okay has saturated the market. There is nothing new to Jason Tharp’s book. However, if you are looking for a new book to flesh out your collection, have someone who likes unicorns or horses or if you like colorful, bold and frankly goofy illustrations, then you need Tharp’s book.
Cornelius makes the most amazing hats. The Mayor (Mayor Mare) asks him to make him (the Mayor) a hat for the festival. Everyone is invited to come. Everyone that is, but Unicorns. And Cornelis stays quiet. After all, he has his shop, his friends, why should he care? But of course, he has an important reason to care. After all, he is hiding one large secret under all his cool (if not out there) hats (he wears a sock monkey at one point). Not so much of a spoiler: He is a unicorn.
The Mayor is so impressed with the hat he asks Cornelius to perform at the festival. It is here that he will finally tell everyone who he really is. You know everything will be flamboyant and colorful. The only thing I was not sure of was how the audience would react to the reveal. This is because the first page has the Mayor’s notice that no unicorns are allowed, and the fact Cornelius muses about how bad everyone talks about unicorns. The reaction of the audience and his friends creates the best part of the story. After he reviles his true self, the crowd (except for thee friends) goes quiet. The representation of this in the art is a delightful twist. The color goes out of the audience but stays with the friends (who one assumes has a pretty good idea that their friend is a unicorn as he is always talking about how to add color, glitter and pizzazz to things). They are highlighted, cheering him on. Finally, everyone, even the mayor, cheers, too.
I did not dislike It’s Okay to Be a Unicorn! but I did wish another animal was used (cats where one is striped and the others dotted; dogs that bark and one that meows; a sloth that likes to go fast while the others slow). This is just a nice book. Not my favorite, but far from my least.