A Unicorn, a Dinosaur, and a Shark Walk Into a Book

by Jonathan Fenske (Author) Jonathan Fenske (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

From the comedic mind of Jonathan Fenske, Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor-winning creator of A Pig, a Fox, and a Box, comes a hilarious picture book about what happens when a unicorn, a dinosaur, and a shark "walk" into a book. Fenske's appealing illustration style and clever text make this intriguing book a must-have for every young reader's shelf.

Absurdity abounds in this funny picture book that tries to tell the tale of a unicorn, a dinosaur, and a shark. While the narrator insists that the characters are in the best book ever, they are all less than impressed, and won't cooperate with the storyteller's cues.

Can the narrator find a way to convince them to stick around, or will the creatures choose to skedaddle off the page? Perfect for fans of The Book with No Pictures and Kevin the Unicorn: It's Not All Rainbows!

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Kirkus Reviews

It’s no joke; this book is good!

Publishers Weekly

Young readers may not be familiar with the classic joke setup echoed in the title, but this meta take on the pains of crafting an engaging story will have them smiling all the same. Things get off to a rocky start when an unseen narrator delivers the titular opening line, only to find that the trio of characters--boldly outlined against spare backgrounds--doesn't comply. "Sharks can't walk!/ And dinosaurs stomp!/ I don't walk. I prance," they variously protest, requiring a tweak to the initial text. And when the narrator subsequently suggests that "this just might be the best book ever!" the unwieldy protagonists take their creator down a peg, responding, "It's okay, I guess./ Where's the food?/ Meh. I have been in better books." The plot threatens to lag ("Soooo... what's next?") until the inspired introduction of a fourth character--a kitten sporting a T-shirt--provides a spark of excitement among the original three while creating a dramatic denouement that breaks the fourth wall. Alongside a now-familiar cartoon art style that holds much appeal for early readers, all-dialogue text by Fenske (When Carrot Met Cookie) drives the pace quickly. Ages 4-8. Agent: Carrie Hannigan, HG Literary. (Mar.)

Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"...a fantastically funny picture book...(the) characters will quickly become a staple for teachers and librarians everywhere." —Kirkus Reviews

"Alongside a now-familiar cartoon art style that holds much appeal for early readers, all-dialogue text by Fenske...drives the pace quickly." —Publishers Weekly

"...this triad of cantankerous creatures is absurdly funny, and their grouchy rebuttals to the narrator's every request strongly echo a familiar push and pull between kids who want to do their own thing and adults who would rather the youngsters get in line." —BCCB
Jonathan Fenske
Jonathan Fenske is the author of many children's books including The Bug in the Bog; Pill Bug Does Not Need Anybody; After Squidnight; Let's Play, Crabby!; Wake Up, Crabby!; and Plankton Is Pushy (all Junior Library Guild selections), and the Lego picture book I'm Fun, Too!. His early readers Nothing Fits a Dinosaur and A Pig, A Fox, and A Box were Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor winners. Jonathan lives in Greenville, South Carolina, with his wife and three daughters.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Penguin Workshop
Publication date
March 21, 2023
BISAC categories
JUV002060 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures
JUV002270 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Dragons, Unicorns & Mythical
JUV002170 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Marine Life
Library of Congress categories

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