• Picture Book Snob

BLOG TOUR: How to Grow a Unicorn by Rachel Morrisroe & Steven Lenton

Published by Puffin Books on 24th June

How to Grow a Unicorn by Rachel Morrisroe & Steven Lenton, Puffin

Do you follow instructions to the letter? Or do you take a more fly-by-the-seat-of-the-potted-plants approach? After all - what could go wrong?


When Sarah goes searching for a birthday present for her gardening-obsessed gran, she finds grow-your-own-unicorns in a mysterious shop. Ignoring the advice on the packet which recommends only planting one seed, Sarah sows the entire contents. She is shocked when 24 unicorn vines blossom overnight! It's OK though, you can never have too many unicorns - or can you?

How to Grow a Unicorn by Rachel Morrisroe & Steven Lenton, Puffin

I first caught a glimpse of this book's cover on Instagram back in January and have been eagerly awaiting its release ever since. I was so excited to finally read it for the first time and it has more than lived up to expectations. Here are ten reasons why my kids and I LOVE How to Grow a Unicorn by Rachel Morrisroe & Steven Lenton:


1. It's extremely magical Just look at the cover alone - how inviting is Mr Pottifer’s Parlour of Plants, even from the outside? This story will appeal to anyone who ever believed in magic and anyone who still does.

2. It's so imaginative Not only is the premise fantastic, there are so many clever and creative details such as the different types of plants. Milk-spraying cowslips, blizzard-inducing snowdrops and sprinting runner beans are among the unusual shrubs for sale. I love the directions for growing unicorns: "plant them next to a stirrup, then feed with pink sherbert and water with syrup."

How to Grow a Unicorn by Rachel Morrisroe & Steven Lenton, Puffin

3. It's incredibly funny Who knew that unicorns were such party animals or capable of so much mischief? Or that they blush when they need to use the bathroom? And what about those insatiable appetites?

4. The unicorns all have distinct personalities Illustrator Steven Lenton is a genius at bestowing individual qualities on all the characters he draws, even when they're practically identical penguins, puppies or unicorns. My girls love to compare each one and decide who is the cheekiest, hungriest or cutest. The unicorns chewing bunting, tablecloths, Gran's dress and headscarf, and nibbling Mr Pottifer's moustache and stalks crack me up. I love the balloon-blowing unicorn, the one with a stack of doughnuts on its horn and the tiny ones that swing from pots and pans. The little one suspended in the air by a polka-dot balloon is adorable too.

How to Grow a Unicorn by Rachel Morrisroe & Steven Lenton, Puffin

5. Mr Pottifer’s Parlour of Plants is AMAZING! Tendrils, tentacles and toadstools lurk in the shadows. Dandelion seeds drift past tiny fairy lights, while sunbeams burst through an art deco style window. A clock appears to be alive (but sleeping). Mermaid tails, and what looks like a troll, can be seen emerging from pots and vases. Peculiar fish float around in a tank and a spinning display holds even more intriguing items. I am dying to know more about Mr Pottifer. Has he always been a venus flytrap or is there a magical mishap in his past?

6. Sarah is a brilliant character She's generous, kind, helpful and enterprising, and quick-thinking in a crisis. I love all her outfits - her daisy-print wellies and matching hairband are fabulous and so is her unicorn costume.

How to Grow a Unicorn by Rachel Morrisroe & Steven Lenton, Puffin

7. Sarah and Gran have a wonderful relationship There’s so much warmth and affection between Gran and Sarah. Gardening is an activity that grandparents and grandchildren often enjoy together and it’s lovely to see this reflected in the story.

8. It shows how there’s always a solution even when circumstances seem completely catastrophic Despite 24 party-destroying unicorns running amok, we see that no situation is ever beyond repair, as Sarah finds a unicorn solution to a unicorn problem.

How to Grow a Unicorn by Rachel Morrisroe & Steven Lenton, Puffin

9. It's age positive Gran is 88 and so active - I want to be just like her when I’m older!

10. THE ILLUSTRATIONS ARE EXQUISITE Steven Lenton is one of our favourite illustrators; I'm a huge fan of his animated, quaint style and his spectacular interiors. As well as being absolutely beautiful, the images are full of amusing details which strengthen the spell cast by the story and introduce even more comedy.

How to Grow a Unicorn by Rachel Morrisroe & Steven Lenton, Puffin

I love the facial expressions of Sarah, Gran, Mr Pottifer and all the unicorns. Gran's cottage looks so funny when covered in plants and it's hilarious when tiny unicorns hide in her hair. The colour palette is gorgeous and so is the use of pattern, especially the polka-dots and the pretty swirling vines.

How to Grow a Unicorn has been created by an author-illustrator dream team. The artwork and the text complement each other perfectly, as do the talents of Rachel Morrisroe and Steven Lenton. It's hard to believe this is Rachel Morrisroe's first ever picture book! It's such an inventive story and the rhyming text is masterful. I look forward to more books by this author and hopefully more collaborations with Steven Lenton too.

How to Grow a Unicorn by Rachel Morrisroe & Steven Lenton, Puffin

There’s so much scope for a sequel or a whole series. I’ve already mentioned that I’m fascinated by Mr Pottifer’s back story and there’s lots of potential for follow-ups with further enchanted gardening exploits. I hope there will be many more adventures featuring Sarah, Gran and Mr Pottifer, and perhaps involving the clock too. In the meantime, we will be revisiting this spectacular story and its magnificent plant parlour again and again.


About the author:

Rachel Morrisroe worked in various media and public affairs jobs, including Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, before becoming a writer. When she wasn't promoting the animals to the media or interviewing celebrities who had rehomed pets, Rachel got to foster puppies and walk dogs in her lunchbreaks. Rachel has also worked in journalism, as a public affairs consultant and in external affairs for an economic think tank - but none of these roles were quite as fun because there weren't any dogs in the offices. In addition to being a writer, Rachel is also an abstract artist whose work has appeared in galleries on both sides of the Atlantic. Follow Rachel on Instagram and Twitter, and see more of her work on her website.

How to Grow a Unicorn by Rachel Morrisroe & Steven Lenton, Puffin

About the illustrator:

Steven Lenton is a multi-award winning illustrator, originally from Cheshire, now working from his studios in Brighton and London. He has illustrated many children's books including Head Kid and The Taylor Turbochaser by David Baddiel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians adapted by Peter Bently, Octopus Shocktopus by Peter Bently, The Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam series by Tracey Corderoy, Frank Cottrell-Boyce's fiction titles and the Sainsbury's Prize winning The Nothing To See Here Hotel series by Steven Butler. Steven has also written and illustrated his own books, including Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights and a brand new chapter book series called Genie and Teeny. Follow Steven on Instagram and Twitter and see more of his work on his website.


How to Grow a Unicorn was published by Puffin on 24th June - see this book on the publisher's website


We are delighted to be part of the #Bookstagram tour for How to Grow a Unicorn. A huge thanks to the author, illustrator, publisher and Kaleidoscopic Tours for having us on board and for our gifted copy. Here are the rest of the stops - don't forget to visit each one to learn more about this sensational new picture book:

See all our reviews of picture books written and/or illustrated by Steven Lenton

Read our review of Genie and Teeny: Make a wish by Steven Lenton


#rachelmorrisroe #stevenlenton #puffinbooks #penguin