Monday, April 24, 2017

Author Stop: Jessie Sima

1. Kelp is beyond adorable! Has he changed any from when you first envisioned him, or is the Kelp we see now, the same Kelp that galloped into your imagination from the beginning?

When I first imagined Kelp, he was just a nameless unicorn who lived with narwhals. He was always small and stubby, and he always had a helmet, but the original version went all the way around his horn. Eventually I realized that it made more sense for his horn to just pop through!

Early in the writing process there was a whole back story where Kelp was dropped into the ocean by a stork and was adopted by a narwhal couple. After many drafts, I realized that all of that wasn’t necessary, and I enjoyed the ambiguity of him just being born in the ocean somehow.

2. What is a food that unicorns detest? 

Unicorns have very sensitive tastebuds that can taste colors. They prefer to eat colorful, flavorful foods and don’t really enjoy dull, bland cuisine. Here are some examples of food you should not offer a unicorn:
-Mashed potatoes
-Vanilla ice cream
-Rice cakes

3. What medium do you use to create your illustrations?

I make all of my illustrations digitally using Adobe Photoshop and a Wacom drawing tablet.

4. If a narwhal could become a land animal for a day, where would it visit?

Stonehenge. They’ve heard a lot of speculation about what the stones mean, and the narwhals think they might know the truth.

5. Are there any other mythical creatures you would like to tell a story about? (for the sake of unicorn privacy, I'm just pretending they don't exist..sshh!) 

What mythological creature wouldn’t I like to tell a story about?! One creature that I’d love to write about - but that I can’t figure out how to make work - is the majestic centaur! They’re such interesting creatures, and I wonder what kind of mischief some modern day centaurs could get into.

6. What is a favorite line(s) from Not Quite Narwhal?

One of my favorite lines is, “They took it quite well.”
To give some spoiler-free context, “they” refers to the Narwhals that Kelp grew up with, and “it” refers to a bit of news that Kelp shares with them. This line sums up the conversation in a way that makes me laugh.


Jessie Sima is an author/illustrator living and working in New York City.

She grew up in a small town in Southern New Jersey, unaware that she was a storyteller. Once she figured it out, she told her family and friends. They took it quite well.

Not Quite Narwhal (Simon & Schuster BFYR) is Jessie's debut picture book.

Kelp doesn't mind being a little different from the other narwhals. But when a strong current carries him away, Kelp encounters some mysterious, sparkling creatures who leave him wondering if maybe he isn't a narwhal at all.

Join Kelp on his journey across land and sea as he tries to figure out where he belongs, and what it means for him to be not quite narwhal. 

Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | BAM


And just for fun, the kidlet and I 'made' and decorated unicorn horns! 

Lastly, if you're as enamored by Kelp as I am, then definitely check out You can take a quiz to find out if you're a sea unicorn or a land narwhal, print out coloring pages, or download an activity kit. Lots of good stuff!!


  1. This looks so adorable!! And I love the decorated unicorn/narwhale horns :)

  2. This looks so stinkin adorable! I'm going to buy it just from the premise alone :)

    1. Yay! It's one of those that you just want to hug for the cuteness- and has a good theme!

  3. This is too too cute!! And I want a unicorn horn!

  4. This book sounds like so much fun. And the cover is just adorable! Huge congrats to Jessie!

  5. I'm glad I'm not a unicorn because I like all those foods! ;)

    1. I like most of those too, tho only if they're flavored rice cakes! I can't recall if I've ever had a parsnip...

  6. What a fun interview~ and I've been dying to get my hands on this book~ it sounds fabulous and funny and full of heart!

  7. I have to get this for my son. He suddenly loves narwhals!

  8. Everything about this is adorable! The book (those illustrations!!!), the homemade unicorn horns, the teal stripe in her hair.. I don't even have a kid (at least not who doesn't have four paws and fur!), but I NEED this book!

  9. Love the look of the book and it sound like such a fun read!

  10. I have always loved unicorns, so this story appeals to me right away. It sounds adorable and I love the cover. I enjoyed learning more about the story and look forward to checking it out. :)

  11. SOOO cute. Okay, I'm ordering that one in to my library. Done!


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