Not Quite Narwhal is the debut picture book from Jessie Sima. With a title and pictures that are equally charming, it is easy to overlook the slim story that reminds me of an under-the-sea-ugly-duckling tale, sort of.
Kelp was born, quite adorably, in the ocean and is doted on by his family. One day, a strong current sweeps Kelp away from home where he spots a, "mysterious, sparkling creature" that looks like him.
Although he is nervous about walking for the first time, Kelp comes ashore and his life changes forever when he discovers LAND NARWHALS! The unicorns set Kelp straight and show him a good time. He returns home to the welcoming embrace of his family, telling him he is not an narwhal, which, of course, they knew. Torn between two worlds, Kelp and his pod of narwhals find a way to enjoy the best of both worlds.
There is probably a message about having two families or being different and fitting in to be teased from Not Quite a Narwhal, but it's just so magically illustrated and fun to look at that I prefer to enjoy reading it for what it is.
Source: Review Copy