Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea (Narwhal and Jelly #1)

by Ben Clanton (Author)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

"Hilarious and charming. The most lovable duo since Frog and Toad." --NYT-bestselling creator of the Dog Man and Captain Underpants series, Dav Pilkey

Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do they love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together.

A wonderfully silly early graphic novel series featuring three stories. In the first, Jelly learns that Narwhal is a really good friend. Then Narwhal and Jelly form their own pod of awesomeness with their ocean friends. And finally, Narwhal and Jelly read the best book ever -- even though it doesn't have any words...or pictures!

Ben Clanton showcases the joys of friendship, the benefits of working together and the power of imagination in the delightful Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea.

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
Undersea adventures have never been so darn cute .... The incessant charm and unabashed joy should make this an easy sell. Swimmingly delightful and a guaranteed smile-maker.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 1-3—Readers new to graphic novels will be richly rewarded with this series opener about a delightfully quirky duo. Earnest and down-to-earth Jelly the jellyfish is the perfect foil for endearingly airheaded Narwhal. Divided into three tales, the book is light on plot but brimming with a fantastically kid-friendly sense of the absurd, from the friends' first reaction upon meeting each other ("You don't look like any fish I've ever seen, but you do look kind of jelly-ish." "Look...things like you don't exist. I mean what is up with that horn?") to the tale that Narwhal and Jelly spin in their metafictional turn, which has a waffle, a strawberry, and a sea monkey doing battle with a giant robot. The art has a childlike quality, and though Narwhal and Jelly are rendered with simple, thick-lined scrawls, the illustrations are expressive and energetic. Clanton includes just a few panels per page and breaks up some of the action with full-page spreads, resulting in a wonderfully accessible option for kids making their first forays into sequential art. A song ("I am a narwhal/a happy little narwhal!") and a brief section with facts on jellyfish and narwhals are fun additions (kids will be impressed to learn that the narwhal's tooth can be up to ten feet long and that the marine mammal can live 90 years). VERDICT An utterly enchanting start to a series that's bound to be popular among young readers. Readers moving on from Mo Willems's "Elephant and Piggie" books and Bob Shea's "Ballet Cat" series will adore this undersea odd couple.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publisher's Weekly

Bantering dialogue entertains throughout, but the book's best moment might belong to the third story, when Narwhal lends Jelly his "favourite book in the whole wide water, which is blank...". "It's an imagination book, Jelly!" Narwhal explains. Readers ready for underwater goofiness of the non-SpongeBob variety will be eager for more adventures from this duo.

Review quotes

WINNER - Eisner Award 2017, Best Publication for Early Readers
SELECTION - 100 Magnificent Children's Books 2016
SELECTION - 2016 Early Chapter Books
SELECTION - CCBC Choices 2017, Fiction for Children

PRAISE FOR Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea

"Geez, Narwhal and Jellyfish are adorable. There's no other word as appropriate for this duo... readers will likely clamor for the next outing." —Starred Review, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"This is a lovable story about friendship with animal education snuck in, sure to be a favourite of kids and adults alike." —Resource Links

Ben Clanton
BEN CLANTON is the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of the Narwhal and Jelly series, whose picture books include Mo's Mustache; Vote for Me!; Rot, the Cutest in the World!; Boo Who?; It Came in the Mail; Something Extraordinary and Rex Wrecks It!. He lives with his wife and kids in Seattle, Washington.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Tundra Books (NY)
Publication date
October 04, 2016
Narwhal and Jelly
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV019000 - Juvenile Fiction | Humorous Stories
JUV008000 - Juvenile Fiction | Comics & Graphic Novels | General
JUV002170 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Marine Life
Library of Congress categories
Marine animals
Cartoons and comics
Comics (Graphic works)

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