Review: Not Quite Narwhal

Not Quite Narwhal
Author & Illustrator: Jessie Sima
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Sometimes you’re a
little different, and
that’s okay.

There is something about not fitting-in that almost everybody can relate to. Unless you were born in that coveted sweet spot, you’ve always felt a little bit out of sorts; a little like you don’t belong, at least in one or another situation. Enter Kelp, our not quite narwhal.

Quick Rating: Buy & Keep


Kelp we are told, was born deep in the ocean and looks remarkably similar to his friends–similar that is, yet different. There is this odd (but charmingly drawn) bubble around his head, and his body isn’t shaped exactly the same way as everybody else’s. He doesn’t like the same foods and doesn’t excel at the same things his friends do either. The great thing is though, nobody cares! His friends, all narwhals, love him just the way he is.

One day, Kelp gets caught up in a current that takes him far away from his narwhal friends to a land where he discovers others, unicorns, who look and act just like him. They also embrace him and teach him everything they know.

Kelp now has a choice. Does he stay with the unicorns or go back to the narwhals? You’ll be happy to know, Kelp embraces both his identities, and, lives happily ever after.


Sima’s illustrations are elegant and, dare I say sweet. I usually loathe to use the word sweet because it kind of sticks in your mouth and leaves that sugary aftertaste. But not Sima’s illustrations. They invoke a warmth that leaves you feeling secure and in your happy place. As if by magic (because I know it’s really hard work and talent), she bridges the gap between traditional and modern illustration blending the styles and creating vivid images that are soft, welcoming, yet slightly edgy. Her use of lighting (see image below) is particularly striking.

Kelp discovers the unicorns.

It’s On My Bookshelf

Aimed primarily at the four to eight-year-old crowd, this book is going to stay on my bookshelf for a long time. There is much to unpack in it and many levels to analyze.

Different is good, self-acceptance is good, acceptance of others is good, all of these themes are packed into a sweet, never before told story. And, as the child grows, the allegories can grow with the child; from a simple story of accepting a child who is different (race, color, nationality, creed, etc.) to a broader story identity and self. By the way, there is a special surprise on the end papers of this book. I don’t want to give it away, but it does involve a rhinoceros. [End.]

If you want to purchase a copy of Not Quite Narwhal, and support my endeavors at the same time, you can click on one of the links below. No extra cost to you, and it will help me out! More books to read, more reviews to do!

Please, leave comments! I love a HEALTHY exchange of ideas. After all, critical thinking is essential to life.

Not Quite Narwhal (Support an Independent Bookstore)
Not Quite Narwhal (Hardcover at Amazon)*

More books for this Age Group can be found here.

If you’d like to preview the book, here’s read aloud:

Simon and Schuster has even prepared a party kit, should you want to throw a Not Quite Narwhal themed Party. You can find it here: Not Quite Narwhal Kit

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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