Pip Bartlett's Guide to Unicorn Training is Witty Fun for Young Animal Lovers

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PIP BARTLETT’S GUIDE TO UNICORN TRAINING is the second book in Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce’s whimsical Pip Bartlett series. I have not read the first book, PIP BARTLETT’S GUIDE TO MAGICAL CREATURES, but I had no problem following along in this fun, cute, and witty sequel.

Pip Bartlett assists her Aunt Emma in her job as a vet. However, these aren’t cats and dogs coming to the clinic – these are magical creatures like Rockshines, Griffins, and Greater Rainbow Minks. Never heard of them? Don’t worry – there are full-page textbook entries with pictures of each species throughout the book, so it’s easy to keep them straight.

Pip has a special skill to aid her in her work: she can speak with these creatures as easily as speaking with a friend. And they’re full of personality.

When Pip Bartlett learns the prestigious Triple Trident Unicorn show (think of the Westminster dog show) is coming to her town of Cloverton, Georgia, she can’t wait to help out – especially when she learns that Mr. Henshaw, a regular at the clinic, is entering a unicorn into the competition. However, she’s not expecting Mr. Henshaw’s show unicorn to be Regent Maximus – an anxious, stage-frightened unicorn who’s afraid of everything.

Now, along with her friend Tomas and rival unicorn trainer, Marisol, Pip must train Regent Maximus and help him get over his stage-fright before the big competition. However, someone in the unicorn show isn’t playing fair; when a mysterious figure is cutting off unicorn tails in the night, Pip sets out to find the culprit before he or she can sabotage the whole competition – and ruin Regent Maximus’s chances of winning after all his hard work.

I very much enjoyed this book. First of all, it’s super funny. We see firsthand what these magical animals are thinking, and their antics kept me smiling throughout. Between a sugar-crazed mink, an egotistical show unicorn, and a flock of food scavenging birds, Pip’s got her hands full – even without Regent Maximus’s constant catastrophizing. I loved how each species was similar to a real life animal, but with a twist – can you imagine living with a sheep that always says, “HEYYYYYY!”? The mystery of the unicorn saboteur wasn’t particularly difficult to solve, but I liked the added intrigue element to this story.

I also really liked the way Regent Maximus’s anxiety was depicted. Much like with real anxiety disorders, Regent Maximus is not magically *cured* by the end of the book; he takes small steps and makes progress, working toward the goal of being able to perform in the show. He is loved and respected for who he is – anxiety and all. Pip and her friends support Regent Maximus throughout the book, helping him work through his fears.

Overall, this is a really fun story that I think will greatly appeal to readers in grades 3-7 – especially animal lovers. Delightful fun. I can’t wait to check out the other books in this series!

5.0 / 5.0