Not a Unicorn (Hardcover)

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Not a Unicorn By Dana Middleton Cover Image

Not a Unicorn (Hardcover)


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Staff Reviews

Imagine your middle school life with a real horn – like a unicorn – growing on your head, and then wish for popularity too! Middleton’s humor, realism and situations all ring true in this heartfelt, novel of finding one’s authentic self. No glitter required!

— From Staff Picks by Maureen

Magic, adventure, and friendship collide in warm and funny novel about the power of self-acceptance to change the world.

Jewel's your average eighth grader. Awkward relationship with a cute boy, ex-BFFs with a popular girl, mom issues at home. You've read it all before. Except for one thing: Jewel has a unicorn horn on her head.

(Okay, and one other thing, but it's just too weird to mention here!)

Jewel tries to stay invisible at school, looking forward to the day when she can finally leave her small town behind, making art with her fellow weirdos, and obsessively reading graphic novels with her best friends. But when she's selected to represent her school at the regional French speaking competition, she decides she's had enough of the shy life. The horn needs to come off.

What happens when you have the ability to become the girl you've always wanted to be? When you don't know your true self, how do you know your true friends? What happens when everything in your life—your biggest struggle, your greatest joy, and your dearest friends—all combine in one calamitous adventure?

With a sparkle of magic, a treasure trove of true determination, and help from all her friends both real and invisible, Jewel just might survive this year with her heart—and her head—intact.

THE ULTIMATE EMPATHY READ: The unicorn horn in this book is a perfect symbol for all the ways every young person feels strange, different, or unusual in any way. While readers' specific situations may differ from Jewel's, her struggle for self-acceptance will resonate with readers of all stripes, circumstances, and backgrounds.

A RICH, FANTASTIC FANTASY: At the heart of this book is a rich, multi-layered fantasy adventure that will have all readers thinking twice about the stories they read, the friends they have, and the superpowers they may not even know they possess.

IRRESISTIBLE MIDDLE SCHOOL DRAMA: Catty ex-friends, terrifyingly unapproachable boys, embarrassing dance proposals, inspirational teachers—this book has all the hallmarks of everyone's favorite middle grade fare.

UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS: Readers won't want to leave this world behind! The main characters and the families in this book are real, warmly drawn, and endlessly relatable. Readers will return to the book just to live in the world for a little bit longer.

RELATABLE FAMILY ISSUES: Jewel's family deals with situations that will be very familiar to most readers: high hopes for the future, never having enough money, and the distance between what we want and what we have. The family dynamics are relatable, too: Jewel's single mom works a low-paying job, and they live in an apartment with Jewel's grandma. The warmth of this family despite their difficulties will stay with readers long after they close the cover.

Perfect for: tweens, fans of unicorns, fantasy readers, parents, educators
Dana Middleton is a middle grade author of contemporary novels for young readers who enjoy a dash of fantasy and mystery. Her latest book, Not a Unicorn, is from Chronicle Books. She is also the author of The Infinity Year of Avalon James (a Young Hoosier Book Award nominee and Oregon Battle of the Books selection), and Open If You Dare. Dana grew up in Georgia, but lives in Los Angeles. You can visit her online at
Product Details ISBN: 9781797203058
ISBN-10: 1797203053
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: September 21st, 2021
Pages: 336
Language: English
"[With] a suspenseful and satisfying ending. . . . this book is suitable for upper elementary and middle schoolers who have a deep love of coming-of-age tales and unicorns.”-School Library Journal

 “I LOVE THIS BOOK! Somewhere between what is real and what is magical lives Jewel’s story, and the world is better for it. This extraordinary tale of yearning to belong will resonate with readers long after the final page.”-e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, award-winning author of Fat Angie 

"Moving, surprising, and relatable, Not a Unicorn reminds readers of the unique magic that lives inside each of us." -Leila Sales, author of Once Was a Time

"Not a Unicorn is a sparkly story about friendship, family, and finding the magic we all hold within ourselves. Celebrating what makes us unique, Dana Middleton has created characters that you'll hold in your heart long after turning the last page." -Elizabeth Eulberg, author of The Great Shelby Holmes series

For anyone who needs a reminder that they are perfect just as they are.”—Kirkus Reviews