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!
And, coming in MAY 2018!!
Source: Review Copy of Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!
Purchased: Volumes 1 - 6 of the Lumberjanes Graphic Novels