A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! is the first in a planned middle grade series based on the popular Lumberjanes comic books. This fantasy blends unicorns and shape shifters with can-do girl power, encouraging teamwork, friendship, and caring along with real-world learning and skill building. Lots of positive messages to ignore gender stereotyping and promote problem-solving, encouraging yourself through a tough task, supporting the group, and lots more. Magical adventures always happen when the group sets off away from camp without telling anyone, so you might need to discuss safety and clarify your rules with your budding adventurers. Positive models for same-sex relationships include a few brief mentions of having two dads, and two of the campers in a romantic relationship hold hands and kiss once on the forehead. A boy who doesn't feel like a boy is readily accepted at the all-girls camp. Shows girls as capable of learning and doing just about anything you can think of. Inspires wonder, curiosity, and a sense of stewardship over the natural world.
What's the story?
LUMBERJANES: UNICORN POWER! continues the adventures of April, Jo, Ripley, Mal, and Molly begun in the Lumberjanes comic book series at the summer camp for "hardcore lady-types." This particular adventure begins when the campers of Roanoke cabin find a lost unicorn in the woods. Using their knowledge of flora and fauna, they're able to reunite Dr. Twinkle with the rest of the herd, which frolics and roams at the bottom of a mountain that's just begging to be climbed. Mountain climbing requires teamwork, concentration, and quick thinking, which the gang has in spades. Once they reach the top, the path mysteriously vanishes. What's it going to take to get back down?
Is it any good?
This fun and funny comic-book-turned-novel is absolutely loaded with middle grade girl appeal, with five high-spirited, unique campers who model teamwork, learning, and bravery. Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! (yes, there are unicorns) ignores gender as a possible limitation and opens readers' imaginations to limitless possibilities. The characters are likable and admirable in their own ways and pursue interests varying from accordion playing to welding. It's especially refreshing to see characters strive for achievements like medals and badges without sacrificing friendship, caring, or mutual support.
Some of the appeal feels manufactured, as though the author threw a dart at what's popular with middle school girls and happened to hit unicorns. Resorting to fantasy elements like unicorns, shape-shifters, and a magic mountain could undermine the message that there's an infinite world of wonder to explore out in nature. But tweens and young teens who easily suspend their disbelief will get a lot of positive messages about ignoring gender stereotypes and the limitless possibilities out there for a girl who wants to discover them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! makes a good book or not. Why do you think the comics series was turned into a book? Have you ever read the comics? If you have, which do you like better: the book or the comic? If not, do you think you'd like to check out the comics now?
Which badges would you try for if you were a Lumberjane? What's something you'd like to learn how to do?
Would you like to be able to explore nature? If you live in a city or town, how could you connect with the natural world?
- Author: Mariko Tamaki
- Illustrator: Brooke Allen
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Amulet Books
- Publication date: October 10, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 256
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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