Fairies versus Unicorns: Ashley Spires’ Fairy Science and Cale Atkinson’s Unicorns 101!

It’s decision time, dear readers! It’s come to a magical showdown between FAIRIES and UNICORNS! Let’s say that you’ve been asked to pick a team between fairies and unicorns…which would you choose?! Would you be Team Fairy or would you be Team Unicorn? It’s not an easy choice to make, but I have picture book help here, courtesy of Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada– in the form of Ashley SpiresFairy Science and Cale Atkinson‘s Unicorns 101– to help along with your decision-making process. Let’s take a look at the bookish contestants! 

First up is Fairy Science, the latest picture book from popular Canadian children’s author and illustrator Ashley Spires (The Most Magnificent Thing, Binky the Space Cat). Esther, our protagonist, is a fairy living in Pixieville who, shockingly, “does not believe in magic” but instead “believes in science”! While fairy friends around her (and her fairy school teacher) focus their attention on learning magic, practicing with their wands, and mixing magical potions, Esther is all about “facts, data, and hard evidence”. If you’re thinking that Esther might just have a tricky time of things in Pixieville with her lack of enthusiasm (and belief) in magic, well… you’re not wrong! As classmates see only magical, mysterious and serendipitous things in the world that need no explanation, Esther sees scientific method and logical explanations. When a problem presents itself to Esther and her fairy friends and fairy school teacher, scientific prowess and methods of magic are both put to the test. Though the results are rather surprising and not exactly what Esther expects, Esther inspires a key fundamental change in the thoughts of open-minded fairies, which is in itself a transformative feat. Ashley Spires is a fabulous storyteller and artist, with a deft hand for informative, problem-solving-centered, super engaging and funny reads. If you have loved Spires’ work in books such as Larf, The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do, or the graphic novel Fluffy Strikes Back, do be sure to check out Fairy Science– it might just be my favourite of the authors’ many great offerings so far! Perfect for fans of picture books such as Charlotte the Scientist Is Squished, Do Not Lick This Book, Rosie Revere, Engineer, similar standout STEM-related books (or, indeed, for readers who love an unexpected fairy book!), Fairy Science is an incredibly appealing, humorous, and enlightening read.

Up next we have the picture book Unicorns 101 from Canadian author and illustrator (and animator) Cale Atkinson, who readers may recognize from popular children’s titles such as Sir Simon: Super Scarer and Where Oliver Fits. In Unicorns 101, readers are treated to an expansive yet concise overview of everything unicorns. From ‘What Is a Unicorn?’ to ‘The Horn of the Corn’ and ‘Unicorn Types’ to ‘Social Behaviors’, four top unicorn scientists (and a hardworking lab assistant named Pete) navigate the surprising, sometimes shocking, sometimes rib-tickling, and plain awesome study of unicorns. As an example, here are just some of the incredible unicorn facts that readers will learn from Professors Glitter Pants, Sprinkle Steed, Star Hoof, and Sugar Beard: the scientific name for unicorns is Betterthan horsicus; young unicorns are called Candycorns; the species of unicorn we know now evolved first from amoeba-corns; unicorns solve disagreements by way of dance-offs; and, last but absolutely not least, unicorns poop…cupcakes (!). Readers will not only glean a tremendous scope of facts, but also get a rare glimpse at a baby unicorn- apparently many “people have been forever changed by the high level of cuteness” so that’s why we don’t often see them. A funny and adorable delight from start to finish, Unicorns 101 is everything a unicorn enthusiast could want. Readers looking for a new and fresh unicorn-centered story should absolutely check out Cale Atkinson’s latest; it it packed with Atkinson’s bright and adorable artwork, capturing attention with visual gags, detailed spreads, and bold ‘facts and figures’ that delight and interest. For fans of picture book authors and illustrators such as Bob Shea, Kate Beaton, and Ben Clanton, or titles such as You Don’t Want a Unicorn!, Unicorns 101 is terrific and entertaining reading.

Who do you think reigns supreme? Fairies or Unicorns? I will be totally honest and say, historically, I’ve probably leaned more toward Team Unicorn then Team Fairy- unicorns are everywhere!-, but my goodness, Fairy Science is excellent, Esther is amazing…and Unicorns 101 is so fabulous! Hm. You know what? I’m totally calling it a draw here! 

I received copies of these titles courtesy of Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available.

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