Skip to main content

Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Brooke Allen, 256 pp, RL 4

I am going to write this review assuming that you are not familiar with the Lumberjanes comics. If you are, you are a superfan and have already bought Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! and don't need me to tell you how awesome it is. In 2014, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson and Brooke Allen created the comic book series, Lumberjanes. Twenty-eight-plus comic books (and seven volumes collecting these comics in book format) later, the prose novel for middle grade readers is here! Written by Mariko Tamaki, author of the Caldecott Medal winner This One Summer, and illustrated by Brooke Allen, Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! is perfect!

Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! is a book that is filled with wordplay, puns and an all-around love of language and knowledge. FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX! is the unifying battle cry for April, Jo, Molly, Mal and Ripley, the five Lumberjanes scouts of Roanoke cabin, each with her own unique interests and abilities. Like Girl Scouts, Lumberjanes have a field manual and work to earn badges (with hilarious names like, View to a Kiln, May the Forge Be with You, S'More the Merrier, Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fondant and many, many more) and pages from this manual appear in the novel. Besides a camp for Scouting Lads, the wild woods around Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady-Tyeps is also home to cryptids and supernatural forces that drive the adventures the Lumberjanes always dive headfirst - despite reservations - into. As the girls are about to climb a mysterious, color changing mountain to earn their Extraordinary Explorer badge, cautious Mal wishes she, "felt the same way as the other girls seemed to feel about doing dangerous stuff like this. Sometimes when everyone else was getting all excited, she just felt nervous, or weird. Not that there was anything wrong with weird." Mal is fine with weird, knowing that, "most people in the world were weird."

Along with adventure, supernatural creatures and forces and positive focus on friendship, you can expect to find diversity in the world and characters of the Lumberjanes. Like Barney, a recent addition to the Lumberjanes camp who uses they/them and not he/him. When the Lumberjanes first met Barney, "they were a Scouting Lad. But, being a Lumberjane was a WAY better fit, because Barney didn't feel like they were a lad." Lumerjanes: Unicorn Power! is also a book packed with a lot of awesome girl stuff. Lumberjanes exclaim, "What the Ella Fitzgerald!" and there is a Famous Female Directors retrospective night that is, "chock-full of films that made really interesting character choices." There is also some awesome name dropping which I hope readers take the time to research, like a dance move called the Yoko Ono Slide, the likening of the rainbow colors of a marvel of unicorns to the work of Japanese artist and writer Yayoi Kusama and an overindulgence of Nora Ephron.

For me, the transition from a Lumberjanes graphic novel to the Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! prose novel is magical. While I love the details of the illustrations of the graphic novels and, despite Brooke Allen's awesome work in the prose novel, found myself missing them at times, I was almost immediately rewarded with a wonderfully written passage from Tamaki, filled with details and calling my attention to things I might have missed in an illustration. I first stumbled upon the Lumberjanes graphic novels after being enchanted by Noelle Stevenson's cover art for Rainbow Rowell's novel, Fangirl. Stevenson is the author of the superb graphic novel (and National Book Award Finalist)  Nimona. You can purchase volumes of the Lumberjanes comics, with two coming out each year, compiling four comic books in each.

The Lumberjanes Collection!
Coming soon...

And, coming in MAY 2018!!

Source: Review Copy of Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!
Purchased: Volumes 1 - 6 of the Lumberjanes Graphic Novels


Laurel said…
Thank you so much for this review. I “follow” new Lumberjane comics via my library RSS feed but because this has a different author it didn’t pop up. My 10yo is going to be so excited! She is an avid Lumberjanes fan.
Tanya said…
Excellent! So glad you and your daughter will get even more Lumberjanes in your lives! As fans of the comics, if you think of it, let me know your thoughts on the transition from graphic novel to prose novel.

Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…