Unicorn’s so excited… he’s going to write the most FABULOUS story in the world!

He has a special writing cottage where he can be all alone and find inspiration. What else does he need? Maybe his special pen. And his special tea. And maybe some home-baked cookies. …And an idea.

NOT the ideas of the friends - Narwhal, Mermaid and Jellyfish - who curiously arrive to find out about this fabulous story and beg to have starring roles… no, not THOSE ideas. Just GO AWAY, everyone!

What will it take for Unicorn to write the most fabulous story in the world? Will he simply have a diva meltdown and alienate all his friends?

Readers of all ages will get a laugh from these home truths about creativity and friendship. A perfect give for a child or for that grownup you know who’s always been meaning to write that book or do that certain creative thing they never quite manage to do.

Interview with writer-illustrator Sarah McIntyre

Where did you get the idea for Grumpycorn?

A deadline - those are wonderfully inspiring! I had a picture book due and I was on a plane ride to visit my family in Alaska. I didn’t have an idea right then, so I just started poking a story into my phone, about someone who didn’t have an idea for a story. And then I thought it would be much funnier if I was a unicorn.

Why the maritime setting?

I was travelling to Seldovia, a small fishing town with houses on stilts, and it seemed a perfect place to set up an imaginary writer and artist retreat cottage. While I was there, I got to know children’s book artist Valisa Higman and see the amazing floating cottage her dad built, and where she works. She gets to row to work every morning! And she has sea otters popping by for visits. It’s pure magic. So I dedicated the story to Valisa and the people of Seldovia, who were incredibly welcoming and let me take part in their summer arts festival.

What’s your advice to someone who wants to write or draw a story and can’t quite do it?

Just start writing or drawing, get something down on paper, no matter how boring or silly it is at first. A blank piece of paper can be scary - fill it up so it’s no longer blank, and then you may be surprised where your thoughts take you as you write and draw; you may do something better than you expected, or there may be a nugget of goodness in there that you can take out and refine later. And the more you write and draw, the better you’ll get at it; it’s all about practice. In the book, I show Unicorn’s friends helping him, and that might be helpful for you; often I create much better stories when I work with friends and we can bat ideas around together. Other times I just need space and quiet to get on with things, but some of the best thing I’ve written have been in awkward situations, like on a plane with only a phone and no notebook to hand, or in a noisy cafe. Don’t faff around too much with creating a perfect setup, just do it. That’s my best advice.

Do you make books alone or with friends?

Making books is a team effort! Even though I wrote and illustrated the book myself, I relied very much on my editor, Pauliina Malinen, to help with the words, and my designer, Strawberrie Donnelly, to help with the pictures and overall design of the book. And I also get help from people at Scholastic - Louisa Danquah, Bethan Dewey, Harriet Dunlea and others - who help spread the word about the book, so people know it’s out there! Otherwise it was just sit on a shelf in Scholastic looking beautiful, but all alone and unread, and that would be sad. I hope lots of people get to read about Unicorn and his funny friends!

Grumpycorn Cover
Grumpycorn horn What will Unicorn, Narwhal, Mermaid and Jellyfish put into their stories? Colour them inspired!
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in A4
Grumpycorn horn Draw Unicorn step by step!
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Grumpycorn horn Draw Jellyfish step by step!
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Grumpycorn horn Draw Narwal step by step!
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Grumpycorn horn Draw Mermaid step by step! Download PDF
30-minute workshop! Draw a Unicorn Book or Minicomic

You'll need 3 pieces of paper and a pencil or pen, and possibly colouring supplies. I'll lead you through drawing Unicorn expressions, developing your character, getting ideas for your story, designing covers and plotting your story.