Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

It's Okay to Be a Unicorn!

Rate this book
Cornelius J. Sparklesteed is known among all the other horses in Hoofington for his beautiful and creative handmade hats. But Cornelius is hiding a secret under his own tall, pointy hat: He's really a unicorn.

Hoofington is a friendly place, but its horses pass on lots of mean rumors about unicorns. When Cornelius is chosen to perform for this year's Hoofapalooza, will he find the courage to show everyone his unicorniness?

40 pages, Hardcover

First published February 4, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Jason Tharp

32 books3 followers
Jason Tharp has dreamed of being an author and inventing crazy creatures since he was a kid. Being an obsessive daydreamer and doodler has led him to create many licensed properties, write books, and design clothing and various other products. Jason's story proves that with hard work, determination, and a sprinkle of magic, anything is possible. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his super-awesome wife and kids, plus one extremely fat kitty.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
81 (25%)
4 stars
94 (29%)
3 stars
110 (34%)
2 stars
29 (9%)
1 star
4 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 74 reviews
Profile Image for CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian.
1,134 reviews1,397 followers
November 13, 2020
As a metaphor for queerness or some other kind of difference, the message this book gives about "being a unicorn" is actually pretty terrible? At the end everyone automatically accepting you and then putting their own unicorn horns on to erase your difference is unrealistic and ultimately harmful. The way to talk about difference and marginalization is not to pretend that it's not important and maybe even doesn't matter at all. Also the horses who said mean things about unicorns and discriminated against them aren't held accountable. They don't even apologize!
Profile Image for SheLovesThePages.
334 reviews99 followers
January 25, 2020
An absolutely fabulous book! The message is amazing. All children should have this in their library. Be you. I highly recommend this book!
Profile Image for Kathryn in FL.
716 reviews
April 27, 2022
This book has become a focus of banning. Some reviewers are saying this is simply a book about self-acceptance and being okay to be different as Tharp has trumpeted in his response to the bans by a few school districts. These parents and school districts have chosen not to include this in their school's curriculum are saying this is based on the book's promotion of homosexuality to young children.

So I decided to read it and make my own decision.

There are some key things to know about the book:

Cornelius is a unicorn. However, we discover near the end that he is pretending to be a horse by hiding his horn under a hat because he fears being disliked by his community for being a unicorn. Note in Celtic lore, unicorns symbolize light, purity, healing, innocence and happiness according to news sources I reviewed, hence we see business tech startups using buzzwords referring to themselves as unicorns. So, Cornelius is actually better than the horses?

Rainbows theme repeated throughout both shown in the pictures as well as mentioned as a topic. Once a sign of God's enduring love, now another symbol commonly used to celebrate being gay or gay "friendly" logo. Yes, I am a Christian. I do not dislike gays. This is a statement about symbols used in the society and a theme within this story, nothing more.

Sparking glue is also featured, something that some people associate with the gay community using when dressing to going to clubs, parties or when participating in theater proformances to denote their difference (as in a number of movies of the past).

Hoofapoolooza is an event he attends (anyone familiar with Coachella and Lalapalooza, and Mamapalooza to name a few?), these events draw large crowds, the first two known for their hedonism on display which typically include public sexual acts of intercourse, drug use and extreme alcohol consumption.

Before Cornelius "comes out" as a unicorn, revealing he is not a horse (everyone in the horse community believed he just like them) while on stage at Hoofapoolooza. He wore a costume and goes on stage to reveal his true self. This bares a canny resemblance to the DragQueens shows at bars. If you are unfamiliar the many "DragQueen" story hours happening in many large city's libraries across the country the drag queens, who participate also have extreme appearances, do your own search, I am not exaggerating.

The story hours have decreased in popularity recently when it has been discovered that many of these "Queens" have criminal records involving pedophilia and past SEX Crimes involving children, a few being members of NAMBLA (North American of Man/Boy Love Association), a group seeking to legalize sex between adults and minors!

Hello? Anyone concerned about little minds involved here? This is very similar to normalizing exposure to innocent little ones (done in mind control and traumatic forms of abuse). No one remembers the time when schools actually warned about stranger danger? I can't believe the change in our society. No, I am certainly not saying that all homosexuals are pedophiles, so don't go there. I am not bullying so don't start. I am absolutely not justifying any form of bullying.

Tharp never addresses the concern about homosexuality expressed by his detractors. Why? Instead he talks about celebrating creativity. So, is he saying homosexuals are creative and non-homosexuals are not? His avoidance of the concern doesn't pass the smell test. His response or lack of it actually reveals alot about his true intentions.

Please note, I have several homosexual friends, including one who came out to me before anyone else (other friends or family). I have removed myself from the political arena that I grew up in because of the dancing around true agendas (liars, hypocrites, politicians are about control not representation). I see that same dance in this controversy. Speak your truth, if Cornelius's goal to be creative, then shouldn't that be the focus of the story? As Judge Judy has stated, "Don't Pee on my leg and tell me its raining.

O Stars! I do not recommend reading this agenda driven book. There are plenty of excellent books that are transparently celebrating the uniqueness of the individual without hidden messages. Likewise, be honest, if you want to read a book celebrating homosexuality find one. At least show that honesty is the best policy. Cornelius was lying to his community.

We don't have to constantly shout out our sexual preferences or proclivities constantly either. People once had boundaries and a respect for privacy. I find the composite person is much more important interesting than their sexual activities. I've even told friends over the years, that some things are TMI and please don't provide the details, please. I can't "unsee" some things, lol.

*It is interesting I frequently notice oddities with my account. Several days after posting, this review has lost likes. Something to ponder on those who are behind the scenes.
Profile Image for Rick.
2,386 reviews
April 16, 2022
In all fairness, I have to admit that probably the only reason I read this book (and wrote this review), is because the Buckeye Valley School District, in the greater Columbus area, informed the author that he would not be able to read his book at an already scheduled event to do just that because his book was forbidden (meaning it was banned) from the school (he was also denied the privilege of reading his book It's Okay to Smell Good!, apparently). Also any children’s art or craft that referenced the book had to be stripped from the walls of the school. Now, let me point out that the district’s mission as stated on their website is: “Engaging and inspiring individuals to thrive in an ever-changing, diverse society.” Clearly the school board members are nothing but a bunch of trumped-up, self-promoting hypocrites. So much for thriving in the “ever-changing, diverse society” around Delaware, Ohio. So, I want to thank the Buckeye Valley School District for brining this book to my attention. It’s scandalously wonderful and arrestingly charming. And it would likely have gone virtually unnoticed by me had they not called attention to it by making their school district a national embarrassment of hypocrisy. So let’s not be neigh-sayers like the Barons of Buckeye Valley School District, jump off our high horses and just admit once and for all: IT’S OKAY TO BE A UNICORN.
Profile Image for Chelsea.
24 reviews1 follower
September 26, 2020
If you apply the themes of race or substitute being a unicorn to being queer, then this book has a horrible message of hide who you are until you convince enough people that you are cool enough to be accepted, and then watch them appropriate everything that was cool or unique about you.

Yes, I know this is a kids book, but it basically says that the unicorn that hides who it is can be accepted after his oppressors have profited off of him and he has proved he is a "good unicorn". This is a damaging trope that shows up in tv and movies, but doesn't translate well into reality. The horses never apologize and the unicorn only comes out, never addressing that the horses made him feel bad for being what he is. They give him a unicorniness day, where they all wear unicorn horns. Oof.
Profile Image for Ashley.
1,405 reviews19 followers
April 1, 2020
I felt like this book was trying to be an allegory about how being gay is okay, which is nice. I wasn't too keen on the execution of the story. It was quite interesting to see how the whole town wanted creative ideas from the unicorn but hated unicorns, but there was a bit of a disconnect between all the things that made this unicorn a gay stereotype (glitter, pizzazz) and the things people hated about unicorns. Then, all that needs to change in society is the unicorn coming out of the closet as a unicorn, and everyone celebrates. The mayor states that the key to happiness is accepting your unicorniness, as though the oppressive society was just waiting to celebrate him all along. It was his fault the mayor himself expressed anti-unicorn sentiments just a few pages ago then? They all put on fake unicorn horns at the end. What does this mean in terms of the allegory? Can horses become unicorns? Can they have unicorn babies? More questions than answers here.

Most kids will be able to enjoy the unicorn story with the colourful pictures. It's a very bright and engaging book, and it aligns with how a lot of straight parents talk to their kids about queer people. I personally don't like the lesson of this book, which I feel puts the onus on people who are discriminated against to prove that they are worthy of societal acceptance. I'd rather he fart rainbows all over them, and some of them realize that rainbow farts are actually cool.
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,909 reviews4,818 followers
March 15, 2020
I'm not sure why this picture book isn't rated higher, but it is HILARIOUS. It's Okay to Be a Unicorn is a good lesson for understanding the importance of being okay with being different. Tharp focuses on reminding readers that our differences are what make us unique and that we should also embrace them. The alternative vocabulary used in this book had me laughing out loud (i.e. DJ Salad for DJ Khalid). I had the time of my life reading this to my daughter. The artwork was so vibrant and colorful and fit the town of the book. I would definitely recommend this book for readers in 2nd-3rd grade. It'll be such a great reminder for children of that age as well as something they can have fun with.
Profile Image for La Coccinelle.
2,245 reviews3,563 followers
June 7, 2020
This is basically a book about self-acceptance, played out with equine characters.

Cornelius is a unicorn, but he hides that fact under a fancy hat. The rest of the town of Hoofington is comprised of more mundane creatures like horses and ponies. When the mayor asks Cornelius to make him an un-unicorny hat, Cornelius agrees. We're told that the other horses say mean things about unicorns, so Cornelius obviously has a reason to hide his true nature. But then he starts planting seeds among his friends to make things in Hoofington a little more colourful and whimsical. And when he finally reveals that he's a unicorn, everyone's okay with it. Even the mayor.

While the message about loving yourself is fine, I thought the resolution of the plot was a little too facile. The mayor's just suddenly okay with unicorns? Okay... but where did that change of heart come from?

Fans of unicorns might want to check this one out, but readers who are looking for a strong story about standing up to the world to be yourself might want to keep looking.
Profile Image for Emily✨.
1,622 reviews30 followers
May 27, 2022
I picked this up after hearing about a cancelled author reading at an elementary school, due to a parent mistakenly believing the book to be about being gay. The author insists the story has nothing to do with queerness, and that the message is just about self-acceptance of our many differences.

Having now read the book, I'd say it definitely can be read as a queer narrative, but could just as easily be applied to most other marginalized identities, or just be about being "weird" or "unique". The actual story follows a creative and color-loving unicorn named Cornelius living in a town of horses, who chafes against the general beige-ness of the town. He also hides his horn under hats (he's a hatter) because unicorns are discriminated against. As the town prepares for the upcoming Hoofapalooza festival, Cornelius encourages his horse friends to be more colorful and loud, and makes a flamboyant hat for the mayor. At the festival, he performs an elaborate dance routine, with his friends cheering for him from the audience, and at the end of the routine he pulls off his hat and ~comes out~ as a unicorn. Everyone cheers and the mayor declares a new holiday called "Unicorniness Day." Cornelius realizes that, "the things that made him different made him UNIQUE," and declares, "The key to happiness is accepting your UNICORNINESS!"

Despite the good intentions of the message, the execution is weak. Mostly, the it is just so watered-down and simplistic as to be essentially meaningless; it's incredible that some parents managed to find it offensive. The story doesn't establish why unicorns are discriminated against by horses, and the lesson that all you need to do is "accept your differences" to be happy and get along is overly simplistic and even dangerous to perpetuate. Accepting yourself is important, but if no one else does and there are laws in place to oppress you (the first illustration is a city ordinance that states "No Unicorns!") you will still face prejudice. The fact that a cool dance number is what convinced the town of horses to accept Cornelius is... interesting. If you make everyone love you, they'll *have to* stop being bigoted!!! (Respectability politics, yawn.) And frankly, if (as the author claims) being a Unicorn is simply a metaphor for being "weird" and not about being queer (or a POC, or disabled, etc.) then the fact that there was a LAW against being a unicorn in the story is pretty far-fetched.

Aside from all of that, the humor didn't land for me and the story was kind of boring. While it's absolutely ridiculous that the author was prevented from reading this book to elementary kids (and anyone rating it poorly due to presumed queer content is gross), the book also just isn't that good imo. 🤷
Profile Image for Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance.
5,827 reviews285 followers
September 22, 2020
Cornelius is known all throughout Hoofington for his creativity, and he has an opportunity to show it off at this year's Hoofapalooza festival. But the horses of Hoofington often say derogatory remarks about unicorns and that saddens Cornelius. What will happen when he makes his big revelation at the festival?

A little story that shares the joy of adding just a little extra zing to everything, and how sharing that zing can make you loved and overcome differences.
Profile Image for Maura.
631 reviews9 followers
September 6, 2020
Cornelius is a unicorn who hides his identity because of anti-unicorn prejudice in his town, including "mean things Mayor Mare and the other horses always said about unicorns." But then he decides to come out as a unicorn with a "prance to end all prances", on stage in front of the whole town...and everyone LOVES it!

For the first time, Cornelius felt great for being himself. He realized the things that made him different made him UNIQUE.

But Cornelius didn't feel great before just because he was hiding his unicornity. He was hiding it because of pervasive anti-unicorn sentiment.

I dunno. Maybe I take this stuff far too seriously, but there almost seemed a victim-blamey message here, that the closeted unicorns among us should just come out in the most dramatic way possible and all will be smiles, rainbows, and holidays in your honor. And if you are unhappy, it is because you have not accepted your uniqueness. But it's not that simple, sadly. The Mayor Mares of the world don't (in real life) just change their stripes when they meet a unicorn in person.

It's a happy, bright, colorful book with a positive message about "accepting your UNICORNNESS". But the idea that everyone will cheer and confetti will fly just for being yourself is, sadly, in this day and age, still quite an overpromise.
Profile Image for Baby Bookworm.
1,642 reviews91 followers
June 14, 2021

This review was originally written for The Baby Bookworm. Visit us for new picture books reviews daily!

Hello, friends! Our book today is It’s Okay To Be A Unicorn! by Jason Tharp, a sweet tale of individuality and having the courage to be oneself.

On a sleepy isle lies the town of Hoofington, which is populated entirely by equines – horses, ponies, but NOT unicorns, who are the subject of vicious rumors. Cornelius, a citizen of Hoofington, is a talented hatmaker; in fact, he’s positively never seen in public without one of his signature hat creations. Hoofington’s townsfolk are all a-tizzy, preparing for the yearly Hoofapalooza, an enormous festival of food and fun. Every year, the festival is capped off by a performance of epic proportions, and this year, Cornelius has been tapped to put on the show. He’s excited, but also nervous; you see, Cornelius has a secret, and it’s one that may change his life in Hoofington forever.

Very cute. The ultimate revelation – that Cornelius is a unicorn himself – is spoiled on the cover, yet not at the detriment of the story; in fact, the audience sharing in Cornelius’s struggle to hide – and ultimately reveal – who he is gives a nice sense of camaraderie with the colorful character. This works well, especially as the story progresses and Cornelius becomes a clear allegory for marginalized people living in the closet (LGBTQ+ in particular), especially with the introduction of the rumor and hearsay elements of the story. Cornelius’s “coming out” performance, in which he reveals his unicorn horn, is ultimately triumphant, especially in a sweet spread that shows his closest friends accepting who he is without hesitation or surprise, then the rest of Hoofington quickly following suit after their initial shock. And while it may feel like a bit of a fairytale ending, it works for the relentlessly positive tone of the book. Colorful, energetic illustrations are a treat, the length is great, and JJ likes it a lot. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Be sure to check out The Baby Bookworm for more reviews!
Profile Image for Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*.
6,001 reviews185 followers
July 8, 2020
It’s Okay to be a Unicorn by Jason Tharp. PICTURE BOOK. Imprint (Macmillan), 2020. $18. 9781250311320



Cornelius J. Sparklesteed, a haberdasher, lives in a town where unicorns are not liked and for the yearly Hoofapalooza the mayor wants Cornelius to make him his least unicorn-like hat ever. Cornelius goes along with all of this until the night of the Hoofapalooza and he makes the brave move to reveal that he is a unicorn.

The bubblegum colored illustrations drew me in, but the plot of this book fell very flat for me. I had a lot of questions about why they disliked unicorns or even why there was only a single unicorn in town. The climax did not have an impact since, given the title, you assume Cornelius is a unicorn the entire time.

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher
Profile Image for Sirah.
1,187 reviews8 followers
October 1, 2021
The upcoming festival has Cornelius rather worried, not the least because he has a secret that might get him kicked right out of the town. He goes about his business of making hats and encouraging his friends to add a touch of magic wherever he goes, but will it be enough to let him admit who he truly is?

Those who are looking for it are certain to find undertones of anti-homophobia and anti-racism as Cornelius works toward finding acceptance in a city where unicorns are inexplicably banned. Horsey puns and charming wordplay are almost enough to push this book into the realm of exceptional. I very much enjoyed reading it with my students and discussing how we can be accepting of who people really are.
Profile Image for BreeAnn (She Just Loves Books).
1,395 reviews103 followers
January 31, 2020
What I Loved:
It’s Okay to Be a Unicorn! is really focusing on how differences are okay and make each one of us special. I loved the way this is woven into the story with such perfection!

How I Felt:
The Story was so wonderful! Our secretly unicorn friend, Cornelius J. Sparklesteed is trying to hide that he is a unicorn from all his horse friends. His secret is shown to the reader early on in the book through the words, which I read to my daughter twice to see if she caught on to what the story was telling her. And she did. “Oh, HE’S a unicorn!” she said. She really enjoyed watching as Cornelius kept his secret hidden and watching his ultimate surprise to the entire town at the end.

The Illustration was so exciting. Bright colors and excellent details were added to each page making the book so enjoyable for a young reader to follow along as they are read the story.

I specifically LOVED that a map was added to the beginning of the book so the reader could envision the book’s location Hoofington. Adorable!

Overall, this was a wonderful story that we enjoyed greatly. The message of loving yourself and being true to yourself was so through the words, it was a powerful story that we will be reading again and again.

To Read or Not To Read:
This is a great book for a preschool to middle elementary school age readers. The story is bright and colorful with the words and the illustrations. It’s one you won’t want your littles to miss!

What's This Book About Anyway?
Cornelius J. Sparklesteed is a fabulous horse with a wonderful, helpful personality…except that he’s not a horse. He has a secret that he hides under his hat. He’s a unicorn living in a town where the Mayor has forbidden unicorns.

We follow Cornelius all week as he helps all his friends with everything they need for the big event, Hoofapalooza. Cornelius is also getting ready, as he has been asked to perform!

The big day comes, and he looks out at the crowd with all of his friends and decides that everyone will like him for who he really is, so he has a big reveal, removing his hat . . . and the crowd roars with love and applause.

My review of this book will post to my blog on 2/3/20. All of my reviews can be found at: https://shejustlovesbooks.com/
Profile Image for RaiseThemRighteous.
99 reviews13 followers
November 29, 2019

Jason Tharp’s It’s Okay to be a Unicorn is a delightful picture book about a creative and kind unicorn, Cornelius J. Sparklesteed, hiding his identity in a town of horses with irrational beliefs about unicorns. The town, Hoofington, bans unicorns, but is otherwise warm and welcoming. Cornelius makes fabulous hats for the town’s citizens and, as a result, is asked by the mayor to perform in the town’s holiday festival Hoofapalooza. The catch: the mayor requests Cornelius make “the most UN-UNICORNY hat” he can. Along with preparing for his own act, Cornelius inspires many of his friends to create even more fantastic art, songs, and even baked goods.

Delightfully gay rainbows and sparkles decorate the brightly colored pages building a unicorny world that just doesn’t know it yet.

During his performance a nervous but brave Cornelius takes off his own fantastic hat grandly revealing his horn while proclaiming: “I’M A UNICORN.” A full two-page spread depicting the top of Cornelius’s head and the audience that stands before him focalizes the audience’s response. His three friends are in color and cheer while everyone else’s response is wide-eyed surprise and they are depicted in a uniform blue that renders them indistinguishable. The reader, like Cornelius isn’t sure how the town will react. But, at the turn of the page, another two-page spread depicts the crowd erupting in cheers. The mayor even declares a UNICORNESS DAY.

I found this book absolutely wonderful! It’s a thinly veiled parable that rejects homophobia, embraces fabulousness, and shows a great coming out outcome!

The bright colors, fun world building, and lesson of kindness and bravery make it the perfect World Kindness Day read. This one isn’t out quite yet but will be available this time next year. Look for it February 4, 2020!
Profile Image for Monica Exley.
Author 22 books7 followers
February 20, 2020
Rating: 5/5
A kindness movement among the nations. I predict that this book will be a world traveler. It will bring so much joy and inspire great kindness to everyone it reaches. It will touch the hearts of a diverse population of people. This book is a wonderful book about a unicorn that inspires change to those around him by being brave and fearless. Is he different? Y.E.S.! However, he embraces his difference and isn’t afraid to reveal to the world what makes him unique. It’s a story about accepting others even though they are different than us. Also, about loving ourselves with all our uniqueness we bring to the table. I absolutely adore this book! I LOVE IT! ❤️ It’s a double the fun BONUS book because the illustrations are so amazing that the pictures alone tell a story. This is great for the little ones that don’t read yet because they can follow the pictures and create their own conclusions and or they can be read the story. If they read it, rest easy- everything is safe within. Jason Tharp, a jack of all trades, is both the author and the illustrator. He did a marvelous job on this book! I’ll be keeping my eye out for future books by him. I love his work. Absolutely stunning book!
💯 percent COLORFUL!
💯 percent SAFE!
💯 percent EDUCATIONAL!
💯 percent STUNNING!
💯 percent FUN!
💯 percent POSITIVE!
💯 percent MAGICAL
Highly recommend that everybody pick up a copy today.
Profile Image for Amber Showalter.
Author 5 books6 followers
April 28, 2022
This book came to my attention when I read an article about the author being told he was banned from reading this book in a school due to one parent's complaint that the book sparked a "gay agenda". I find this complaint ridiculous, and I find this book delightful. It is a book about inclusion. The characters in the book accepted Cornelius's creative ideas and initiatives before they knew he was a unicorn, and when they discovered he was a unicorn, they continued to accept him. As we should when we learn there's something about someone we love that makes them different. As it is in real life, some people may struggle with being true to themselves, and may be initially afraid to reveal that they have a disability, a medical condition, that they're lonely, their sexual orientation, or that what they like and do is "weird" or "different" than those they see around them. The overarching theme of this book, in my perspective, is to teach inclusion, and that it's okay to be different. I can see the perspective of other reviewers who pointed out that the horses never apologized for the discrimination against unicorns, and that it may be unrealistic that everyone will accept you and like you. I totally get that. But on the flip side, I think this book can teach us to be inclusive and kind to those around us, regardless of any differences.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
332 reviews2 followers
August 12, 2022
In Hoofington, Cornelius J. Sparklesteed is famous for making hats. Every year the town has a big festival, Hoofapoolza, and this year the mayor wants Cornelius to make him the best most un-unicorny hat he can (the town which seems to be all horses, hates unicorns). Cornelius helps everyone in town make this year’s festival the best but the fact that everyone says mean things about unicorns bothers Cornelius and he doesn’t have fun at the festival. There’s a reveal at the end that makes Cornelius realize that being different is unique and the residents all accept and celebrate each other.

What we liked:
🦄 unicorns, obviously
🦄 a message of acceptance, kindness, and love
🦄 what makes us unique is what also makes us special
🦄 sometimes you aren’t as alone as you think, and telling others who you are/or about your difference may lead to acceptance

The author’s bio mentions he wants others to embrace the magic of their story, which I absolutely love.

I think if this was for older kids or adults, it would be nice to have a message on how the others went from saying mean things about unicorns to accepting Cornelius. (Or even how Cornelius felt with his friends saying mean things not knowing his true identity). But for little kids, I think it would make the book too wordy and go over their head.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.1k reviews271 followers
April 4, 2020
Featuring colorful artwork rendered digitally with Illustrator and Photoshop on Wacom Cintiq, this picture book contains a positive and affirming message about being true to oneself. After all, the things about each of us that might seem odd or strange to others are the very things that make us special and unique. And sometimes, as Cornelius J. Sparklesteed finds, others will be happy to celebrate those particular qualities that make you the person you are. Cornelius is known for the creative hats he makes, but he hides part of his identity--the fact that he is a unicorn. The town mayor is so pleased with the hat Cornelius makes for him that he taps Cornelius to perform at the annual Hoofapalooza. When it's time to do, Cornelius decides that it's also time to reveal his secret. It isn't easy to do so, given all the negativity his fellow horses have shown toward unicorns. The fact that he had offered some creative tweaks to his friends about their own wares and music might have had something to do with the way the other horses accept him. The reminder that prejudice comes in all sorts of forms and that embracing the inner you is important is delivered in a humorous package here, with plenty of horse-related humor and vocabulary.
Profile Image for Stephanie Bange.
1,588 reviews13 followers
October 24, 2020
Jumping on the "unicorn bandwagon", this book reassures children it's OK to be different.

Cornelius J. Sparklesteed is active in his town of Hoofington. The problem is that the horses in town talk poorly about unicorns - which is what Cornelius is, hiding his horn under his hat. He helps the equines in Hoofington change their minds about unicorns.

Tharp pulls out all of the horse-stops in this one. Horse-themed puns galore are everywhere (ex. "Neighbraham Lincoln", "Mayor Mare", "hooferific") - almost to the point of being over the top. The story itself is a bit preachy and over the top. Visually appealing to girls with horses and rainbows everywhere, the couple of instances of potty language are included for boys.

Tharp's illustrations were rendered in Photoshop using a Wacom intiq. They are strong bright rainbow colors - blues, yellows, pinks, purple, and green. He changes this up on the spread when Cornelius "outs" himself as a unicorn - the audience is shown in a light blue-green, with three of Cornelius' buddies who are not shocked are shown in their pink, green, and golden colors.

This could be used in units on individualism, however Todd Parr's books do a better job of getting right to the point about this.

Optional for PreSchool-grade 2.
14 reviews
February 22, 2021
The plot of Its Ok To Be A Unicorn is about a unicorn named Cornelius who is unique from his peers. He is unapologetically himself and stands out from the rest. This book is designed to teach the kids that it’s OK to be themselves and “different “from the crowd.
The character in the story is a unicorn named Cornelius who is different from the other unicorns and has a certain flair to him that the other unicorns don’t quite understand.
The illustrations are extremely colorful and vibrant. In each illustration there is action and drawings that depict the quirky nature of the book.
The thing I like most about this book is that they use fictional creatures such as unicorns, give them personalities and teach one big moral throughout the story. The point of the story is to show that it’s OK to be yourself and unique from the rest.
In the classroom this would be a great book to help teach students it’s OK to be yourself. I would have students listen to this book and then write down a bunch of things that set them apart from others.
Profile Image for Rebbecca.
29 reviews
April 26, 2022
Cornelius J. Sparklesteen makes beautiful hats and those hats hid his secret. In a story about learning to share who you are and acceptance, Jason Tharp sews together a story that could represent the reader living in a small town. This book is a wonderful example of why books are windows and mirrors for all. From having our fears of sharing ourselves reflected to us to seeing how a small town can accept our uniqueness, Tharp brings the message using horse-based names and engaging bright colors. This book really does declare that Unicorns are Welcome!

In 2022, a school prevented the author from reading this book because a parent was concerned about the "gay agenda" in the story. I didn't know that being accepting of yourself and others now belongs to the LGBTQ+ community, but if so I have been pushing that agenda for a long time.
26 reviews1 follower
May 1, 2022
I'm reading this to a 4yr old who likes to wear her shirts on backwards, as well as two different pairs of shoes. You know, when they wear one shoe from one pair and the other from another pair and sometimes end up with two lefts or two rights.
I'm also reading this to an eight year old who believes the current leader attacking Ukraine is a villain. She is vocal and cannot stand unfairness but cannot see when she is being unfair herself.
I am reading this to myself. As a woman that lives in a world of patriarchy, a hard working, loved and respected female that still struggles to actually be seen seriously. A woman who knows what it's like to throw yourself out there and not get the happy ending that Cornelius gets at the end of this story. However, kids need to see that there is hope, a possibility of acceptance and love no matter their unicorniness.
Profile Image for Amy the book-bat.
2,109 reviews
May 12, 2022
A cute story about embracing what makes you different.

This book was recently banned by a school district in Ohio because ONE parent saw a rainbow on the cover and assumed it was promoting the LGBT+ agenda. The book is nothing like that. Obviously that ONE parent never read the book. It is a cute story about a unicorn in a town of horses. If being LGBT+ is what makes you different, then I suppose this book can be applied to that difference, but it is not explicitly about LGBT+ issues. Even if it was, I think it is a real disservice to the children of that school district to ban the story. Hearing that it is OK to be unique is important for all children to hear.
Profile Image for Villain E.
2,720 reviews10 followers
May 9, 2023
The idea is solid. Everyone knows unicorns are awesome, so an island of horses where the don't like unicorns is a good way to show the unreasonableness of bigotry. But we only see the bigotry at the very beginning of the story. Instead, the main character, who is always wearing a hat, goes around town being friendly. In the end, he reveals that he's a unicorn and the whole town is fine because they already like him.

I don't know. I kind of wanted something different. But your mileage may vary.
Profile Image for Christina.
665 reviews25 followers
February 15, 2020
It’s Okay To Be A Unicorn! is fun to read that inspires kids to celebrate their unique differences. I laughed a lot at the wild words the author constructed, such as “Mayor Mare,” “Hoofington,” and “Hoofapalooza.”

The height of the story and proceeding action was kind of disappointing. It missed the mark on the moral point of the story. Overall, it’s a good book kids will love listening to and enjoy the colorful illustrations.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 74 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.