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4.4 out of 5 stars
Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
I feel like it's only recently that pop culture has opened its eyes and realized that when it comes to mythical creatures, unicorns are the funniest animals. Sasquatches rank a close second and zombies have their laughs, but for out-and-out humor, unicorns beat all (there's a reason the "Charlie the Unicorn" vid was one of the first viral videos on YouTube). I say that and yet there hasn't been a single funny unicorn picture book out there that I could name off the top of my head. I say there hasn't been one . . . until now. And who else would have had the sweet twisted sense to come up with the world's greatest unicorn-related picture book other than Bob Shea? If you thrilled to his Dinosaur vs. Bedtime and were wowed by his New Socks then hold on to your hats folks. The man has just outdone himself and the result is the funniest picture book I have read in years and years and years. Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great all right. And so will you.

Poor Goat. He's feeling pretty downtrodden at the moment. You would too if you had to compete with someone like a Unicorn for attention. When Goat rides his bike to school no one notices him thanks to flying Unicorn. When he brings marshmallow squares ("that almost came out right"), Unicorn makes it rain cupcakes. When he tries to do a magic trick, unicorn turns stuff into gold. "I can't follow that!" Goat's content to mull over the situation alone, until Unicorn comes on by. First Unicorn cannot get enough out of Goat's goat cheese pizza (unicorns can't make cheese). Then he gets wowed by Goat's hooves (they're cloven). And then he starts wondering what it would be like to do stuff like play soccer without destroying the ball. When all is said and done, it may well be that Goat and Unicorn have a lot in common with one another. Maybe they'll be friends after all.

Why should you pick this book up? I direct your attention at this time to the cover. There you will notice that the title "Unicorn" is written with sparkles and letters that are every color of the rainbow. Unicorn, for his part, is making it rain cupcakes from his hooves. Smiling cupcakes. On the back cover Unicorn is reading this book as a flock of yellow and green birds tweet their undying love to him. The title page shows a cloud raining on goat and everything else, except for smiling unicorn (a small heart coming from the cloud in adoration). On the dedication page the goat sits morosely covered in flowers that clearly erupted over his personage when Unicorn skipped past. And if all that weren't enough, please note that when you look at the endpapers at the back of the book and you see, yet again, the unceasing row of smiling cupcakes, notice that one of them has been replaced by a partially devoured slice of goat cheese pizza. All of these details, every last one, exist around the story itself. If you can imagine how much time the author/illustrator has devoted to just these little bits and pieces, you can understand how much MORE time and love went into the actual book itself.

And yes, the art is magnificent inside as well. I mean, the fact that the unicorn is blue-eyed with red hair . . . I have no idea why that should be funny, but it is. He has this bizarre wide-eyed innocence about him. There's also the fact that every time he enters a room he is surrounded by a universe in love with him. The shot of him approaching goat while behind him the mountains, lakes, forests, earthworms, and planes all give off little hearts of love is worth the price of admission alone. There's actually a kind of Japanese animated sensibility to this. Shea is tapping into his inner kawaii to make a book that references the art without being direct. Note too that when Goat starts fantasizing about what awesome crime fighters the two could be, Shea subtly changes his style to become a little more old-fashioned and classic. It doesn't jar the reader out of the book, but it does make a slight and subtle distinction to young readers that this storyline is just in Goat's head. Remarkable!

And that's all great. What surprised me was how amazing the writing was. First off, part of the reason the book works at all is that Shea figured out Goat's personality from the get-go. He's a little too eager to try and make himself look good. You know that he would kill to get the sort of attention unicorn attracts naturally. But the funny thing is that for all that we're on to Goat from the start, we're also on his side. Who amongst us would, in his place, feel anything but envy towards Unicorn? That's why it works so well when Unicorn turns the tables, so to speak, and keeps oohing and aahing over Goat's finer attributes. By the end of the story you know that Goat's kind of a shyster and Unicorn is pretty nice, but you still feel really great over the fact that they've become friends.

The language of the text puts it over the top as far as I'm concerned. When Unicorn notices Goat's feet he proclaims, "Whoa! What is up with your hooves? Those things are out of control!" Goat replies, "Oh, these? These bad boys are `cloven'." Do you know how many writers of children's books would kill to come up with picture book dialogue like this? The title alone is key to the rest of the text. It's a contemporary look, a contemporary feel, and the language is straight out of the early 21st century. I wouldn't have it any other way. No sir.

About the point I start hyperventilating over the fact that even the fonts in this book are fantastic (Goat speaks in a typewriter like font while Unicorn will occasionally burst out with multicolored words surrounded with sparkles) I know I have to reign myself in. So here's the part where I mention in the review that no matter how awesome the book I've read is, there are still parts that need improvement.

*crickets chirp*

Honest, I did try to come up with something. But this is one of the rare books where I cannot for the life of me figure out how anything in the title could be better. It's about a friggin' unicorn who eats glitter and rainbows and I think it's jim dandy. Best danged thing I've encountered in a long time. You know what this book really is? It's a unicorn book that boys will actually want to read. And personally I think that's exciting news that should be celebrated far and wide. So if you're looking for a funny picture book that would make a killer readaloud to kids in anywhere from Kindergarten to the 3rd Grade, pluck this puppy up and keep it by your side.

For ages 4-8.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Goat thought he was pretty special until Unicorn showed up and started showing off. Anything that Goat tried to do, Unicorn could do it better without even trying. Almost anything, that is, and once Goat starts learning about some of the things Unicorn can't do, there is suddenly a chance that they might be friends (or even a crime-fighting duo!). Bob Shea has done a delightful job of capturing the attitudes of so many children when they are feeling jealous of others. Goat perceives Unicorn as trying to show off when really he is just being himself, and once they start talking is more than ready to admit that he has many shortcomings ("I can't play soccer. One head butt and it's game over!"). Shea combines several media to craft colorful, animated illustrations very similar many modern cartoons. Differing fonts and colors make it easy to tell who is speaking without having to state it. The book carries important lessons about seeing beyond preconceptions without ever belaboring the point, and will appeal to a wide range of readers.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon January 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover
“Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great” written and illustrated by Bob Shea a story about friendship and rivalry, the differences that instead dividing can rather be the best link between people (and characters from the picture books).

The first main character, Goat is funny, popular and pretty cool but when the second one, Unicorn will move in everyone will be amazed by his special abilities that include making rain cupcakes and even flying.
Goat will become more and more jealous of this show-off how he called him, but one day Unicorn will let Goat know just how jealous actually he is.
The story will eventually end up nicely, and the two rivals will instead become best friends, enjoying things that the other can do…

“Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great” is funny book for children from 2 to 5 years old that has many amusing moments while these two funny characters explain to the reader and one to the other reasons for their jealousy.
The book illustrations with its simplicity are tailored for youngest readers, they don’t contain a lot of details, instead attracting with a wealth of colors.
Bob Shea with this one made an excellent story about one being envy and feeling jealous of someone due to things they have or can do, and due to those things we can sometimes feel less popular or desired as company. But just the way the author solved this case in his book, children should be taught to approach the differences - not to perceive them as threats, but as an opportunity to complement each other.

And due to all of the above this interesting and entertaining story with a good premise can be recommended for reading, and it’ll be especially enjoyed by those who love beautiful mystical Unicorns.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The sassy, sarcastic tone of the book is fun for parents to read, but I think this book sets up kids to think it's okay not to admire someone unless they admire you. I think kids will learn pretty quickly that the unicorns in the real world don't take time from being "pretty great" to make goats feel better about themselves. Stop waiting around for someone to validate you, goat!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Love the concept but this book is not appropriate for young children. It uses the terms "stupid", "darn", "dopey" and "pain in the neck". It also uses sarcasm that toddlers will take literally and dipicts goat making fun of unicorn because he is envious, without ever demonstrating that this is not okay. The goat only seems to feel good about himself once the "cool kid" pays attention to him. Finally, when they pair up, I like that they are "fighting crime" but not that they are beating people up. I am returning the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I bought this for my 4 year old, but my 8 year old really, really loves the story. She'll read it over and over again to her younger siblings.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is a really cute story! Teaches a valuable lesson to children in a "fun" way. Great pictures and easy read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I think most 5/6 year-olds can relate to the messages about friendship, delivered in a very funny way, in this book. It took us a long time to realize that at one point in the story, Unicorn uses his horn to catch a bad guy buy giving him a wedgie. Just like 1st graders, the goat and the unicorn swing from insecurity about their skills to friendship in the space of the 10 minutes it takes to read this delightful story. My daughter knows it by heart.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Well, maybe not ever, but it's pretty darn great. I bought this for my almost one year old daughter since we read to hear all the time. She loves it because it's colorful and glittery (not that annoying glitter that gets all over everything - it stays put). I love it because the story is truly funny. I laughed out loud the first time I read it and it's still my fave. BUY IT!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Not good. Uses the word stupid. Hard to read a book to your kids with that word when we teach them that's a word we never say.
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