Brian Reyes is a totally normal kid—until he isn’t.
One day, something strange and pointy appears on top of Brian’s head and grows into a full horn. In an attempt to learn more and help Brian, his parents take him to many doctors. Unfortunately, no one knows anything about horns growing on kids’ heads. At school, the other kids, except his best fried Avery, make fun of Brian, teasing and calling him Unicorn Boy. Avery and Brian have been friends since Avery saw Brian being bullied and interfered to protect him. Despite Avery’s kindness and acceptance, Brian feels weighed down by the other students’ harsh words.
At lunch one day, Brian is approached by a talking muffin named Wylit. After convincing Brian not to eat him, Wylit teaches Brian that his horn comes with magical powers. Going home from school, Wylit and Brian come across an almost-terrible scene of a cat about to get hit by a van. Using his powers, instinct, and Wylit’s guidance, Brian saves the cat. Saving the cat triggers a transformation that truly turns Brian into Unicorn Boy, a superhero. Unicorn Boy’s superpowers now include the ability to see dark shadow spirits. The shadow spirits chase Unicorn Boy all the way home, where they kidnap Avery! Unicorn Boy and Wylit must then embark on an adventure to save Avery from the Skull King and free the enslaved kitties they discover along the way.
Unicorn Boy is beautifully written. It has a great pace, with more time in the parts of the story that have character growth and information for the reader to learn. The action scenes move quickly, adding a feeling of intensity and urgency. This silly book is full of surprises and new magic. It displays and encourages creativity, imagination, and confidence. This story exemplifies the power of believing in oneself. It includes funny original characters and fun references to characters from popular children’s nursery rhymes.
Visually, the art has a cutesy style. Black, rounded outlines are used, adding to the cute cartoony vibe. The colors are vibrant and especially saturated during more magical scenes. During Unicorn Boy’s transformation sequence, it’s fun to see his outfit change and his hair grow and change color. At one point, Unicorn Boy begins to lose confidence and question himself. During this scene, the reader sees Unicorn Boy literally fall into a black void as his spirit falls. To me, this was the perfect visualization of that feeling. Then, slowly, Unicorn Boy begins to see sparks around him, shining light on him, put there by the people who love him. That light brings him out of his mental void and back to reality, where he has the mental strength to fight the bad guy.
The story ends with Avery also turning into a superhero, and an implication for future books of their adventures. This book will likely appeal to children aged 8-12, who love comedy, magic, and cats.
Unicorn Boy Vol. 1
By Dave Roman
Macmillan First Second, 2024
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12
NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9), Middle Grade (7-11)