The Grumpy Unicorn by Jen Hodge, was one of our treasures that we stumbled upon while we were in San Diego on a short vacation. We were walking along the boardwalk on Sunday, and there were several tents and tables set up by various people – some were selling jewelry, others were drawing caricatures, and all sorts of other things as well. We passed by this one little table with an umbrella and a nice lady was sitting there with a stack of books. Well…for those of you who know me, that is the best way to get my attention. Just wave a book in front of my face…especially a picture book!!!
The book was The Grumpy Unicorn, and it is described as a whimsical tale of a grumpy unicorn who struggles with his self-image amongst his peers of scary mythological creatures. The little unicorn is in school with a bunch of other monsters and mythological creatures who are way more fearsome and cool. There are dragons, minotaurs, and a griffon with huge claws and many others. The unicorn is bright and sparkly and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the scary, fierce creatures.
In the story the unicorn wants to be anything but a unicorn. A scary griffon, a dragon, or any of the other monsters that are at the school for mythological creatures. But don’t worry – at the end of the story, the unicorn has a big smile on its face!! I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but it turns out that being a unicorn is not so bad after all.
We were so excited when we found out that the woman running the table was not just selling the bo0ks, but she was the author and illustrator! Morgan and I were thrilled to be meeting the woman who drew the fabulous pictures throughout this book. We had not even read the story yet, but the illustrations were so amazing, that we loved it already. And…who doesn’t love a unicorn? And how about a grumpy unicorn? We were intrigued….
Through our conversation, we discovered that Jen Hodge had used a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to self-publish her book. We also learned that it took her about a year to complete the illustrations for her story. No wonder we were so amazed by them. She sits out in Seaport Village in San Diego and sells her books at a little table with a cute umbrella to people who pass by. If you haven’t been to Seaport Village yet, it is definitely worth a trip. It has lots of little shops and restaurants along the water in San Diego, and on Sundays, there are all sorts of extra treasures along the walkway. And as a bonus, you just might run into Jen Hodge. If you do, you can pick up a copy of The Grumpy Unicorn.
As we checked out the book, we chatted with Jen Hodge, and Morgan and I both felt like we were having a conversation with one of our good friends. She flipped through one of the books with us telling us all about the pictures. I found myself a little star-struck. I was in the presence of an amazing artist and story-teller. So not only did I have Morgan take a picture with Mrs. Hodge, I jumped in and got in the picture for a few shots as well. What a nerd…
Morgan was so excited to have Mrs. Hodge autograph her copy of The Grumpy Unicorn! And she was even more excited when she read what Mrs. Hodge wrote to her… In the front of the book, she wrote “To Morgan, Sparkle On. Love, Jen Hodge.” Well…how much do you think my sparkly little girl loved that?? It made her day to have her very own copy that was signed by the author! To completely understand why she signed it that way, you will need to read the book! But to Morgan it didn’t matter – the word “sparkle” always makes her happy.
We weren’t the only ones amazed by the illustrations in this book… We decided in San Diego that we needed to get an autographed copy of the book for Morgan, but we wanted one for Morgan’s teacher as well. So when we got home, I scheduled a time to come in and read aloud to the class, and guess what I read… You guessed it – The Grumpy Unicorn by Jen Hodge. The children were captivated – not only by the story, but by the pictures as well. I read the words on each page and then slowly turned the book around to show them the pictures. We spent about 5 minutes on each page just looking at the monsters, the colors, and all the other fabulous parts to each picture.
Morgan’s teacher was thrilled when she found out that I was reading an autographed copy of the book we had bought for her to the class. She quickly taped the picture of Morgan with Jen Hodges (that I had printed out to show the class) in the front of the book. Everyone was excited that they would be able to read The Grumpy Unicorn again and again since they now had their very own copy to keep in the classroom.
So…as I was writing this blog post, I thought about including a link in case you wanted to buy yourself a copy. However, it is very difficult to find any information on Jen Hodge and The Grumpy Unicorn. You can click on the Grumpy Unicorn’s Facebook Page and get a little bit of information there, but the link they provided to buy the book on eBay was not working. I sent her a message via Grumpy Unicorn’s Facebook Page, and told her about this post, but she replied and said she still doesn’t have a place to sell the book (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc…). She told me that she would be happy to mail me some copies if anyone wanted one. So…if you’re desperate, let me know. Otherwise, I will continue to research her and try to find out when and where she will be selling her book and put the link out as soon as I know something.
You can also find information about her Kickstart campaign by clicking here: Kickstarter Campaign, but I will tell you that there was not much information available on this page (at the time I was writing this). I will continue to try and find out how to order this book and let you know!
In the meantime, enjoy the pictures in the picture gallery – you can get a good idea of how wonderful these illustrations are. Keep on reading! Until next time…