Thelma the Unicorn makes it big time


Neither could her creator, Australian children’s book author and illustrator Aaron Blabey, who is currently the executive producer on Netflix’s animated musical version of his beloved faux unicorn.

Thelma the Unicorn is being turned into a Netflix animated musicalSource:Supplied

The story of Thelma sees the loveable misfit rise to fame as she realises her dream of becoming a unicorn – albeit a fake one. But fame has its pitfalls and Thelma misses her friend, Otis the donkey, and her old life as a plain pony.

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After learning to love herself for who she is and gaining a better understanding of how being a unicorn brought joy to the world – and after Blabey received daily emails from young fans – Thelma returns to fame in the sequel, The Return of Thelma the Unicorn, but this time on her own terms.

Pig the Pug attempts to steal the attention from Thelma the Unicorn and their creator Aaron Blabey at his home in the Blue Mountains. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Pig the Pug attempts to steal the attention from Thelma the Unicorn and their creator Aaron Blabey at his home in the Blue Mountains. Picture: Jonathan NgSource:News Corp Australia

As fans of Blabey’s work, American filmmakers Jared and Jerusha Hess – known for Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre – jumped at the chance to adapt Thelma’s story.

“The screenplay for Thelma is just delightful, it’s absolutely beautiful,” the New York Times best selling author, Blabey, said. “After I read it, I was actually quite moved. It’s very clever and very funny.”

While the creation of Thelma’s musical is in its infancy, casting for the production of the DreamWorks animation film based on Blabey’s graphic novel series The Bad Guys – adapted by Tropic Thunder screenwriter Etan Cohen – is underway.

The Bad Guys DreamWorks animation is set to be out in September 2021.

The Bad Guys DreamWorks animation is set to be out in September 2021.Source:Supplied

He must remain tight-lipped on who these actors are but Blabey revealed some big names against his main characters.

“I started writing The Bad Guys in 2015 and I had these [actor’s] voices in my head, never in my wildest dreams thinking it would be a movie let alone one with the actual people in it. But many of them are,” he said.

It’s a far cry from Blabey’s life in 2014, when the then 40-year-old was deflated by the lack of success of previous books. But one walk changed everything.

“If I’m writing a picture book I go for a long walk and often over several days I just walk and walk and walk,” Blabey said from his home in NSW’s Blue Mountains.

“It’s become almost mythical among my friends and people I know because on one of those walks, in 2014, in a single day I’d invented Pig the Pug, Thelma the Unicorn and The Bad Guys, they’d all popped into my head. It was very strange. It was a freak occurrence.”

Thomas Hoscke is a fan of the Great Australian storybook Collection, especially Thelma the Unicorn. Picture: Katrina Bridgeford

Thomas Hoscke is a fan of the Great Australian storybook Collection, especially Thelma the Unicorn. Picture: Katrina BridgefordSource:News Corp Australia

In the years since, Blabey has visited hundreds of schools to better understand what children want from their picture books.

He has achieved 20 million books in print worldwide with Scholastic Australia and while the big screen is taking up much of his time, his heart lies with books and sharing stories with children.

“Kids having fun while reading with their parents is my whole reason for writing,” Blabey said. “There’s a tiny window when your kids are little and they want to sit there and hear stories, that is so magical and beautiful and then eventually they grow through that phase and it’s gone.

“There’s that element of capturing that time and making the most of it and having this beautiful, intimate experience of stories and pictures and words and magic of all those things with the kids.”

Collect all 15 Australian storybooks.

Collect all 15 Australian storybooks.Source:News Regional Media

As part of the Great Australian Storybook Collection, you can redeem your free copy of Thelma the Unicorn and collector case with Saturday’s News Corp Australia papers.

The remaining 14-books of this collection are $2.70 with the corresponding day’s token. Kidsbookcollection.com.au



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