Clichéd but attractive to its target audience.

TWELVE DANCING UNICORNS

What is the secret of the 12 unicorns?

In this horned-and-hooved variant on “The 12 Dancing Princesses,” a benevolent king highly prizes his unicorns, feeling a special kinship with them. Every day, a goldsmith forges new chains to keep them from running away. But every morning, the king finds the chains broken and the unicorns sleeping soundly in their corral. Villagers come from miles around to observe them, none more lovingly than a certain little girl who adores the smallest unicorn. The king decrees that whoever can discover the secret of the broken chains will win a prize of his choosing. The girl’s mother gives her a magic cloak made of gossamer, and that night, she slips between the slats of the fence unnoticed by the guards. At the stroke of midnight, the unicorns shake their heads in unison, and the guards freeze. The girl watches in fascination as the unicorns dig a deep hole, which leads to a tunnel and their escape. Fairies follow as they gallop through beautiful glades; the girl rides the smallest. She reports to the king, declaring that freedom for the unicorns will be her prize, and he gives the smallest unicorn to her as a gift. Gerard supplies dreamlike illustrations to accompany this wish-fulfillment story for little girls, and there’s much rococo embellishment both in the design and the storytelling.

Clichéd but attractive to its target audience. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4027-8732-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text.

BO'S MAGICAL NEW FRIEND

From the Unicorn Diaries series , Vol. 1

A unicorn learns a friendship lesson in this chapter-book series opener.

Unicorn Bo has friends but longs for a “bestie.” Luckily, a new unicorn pops into existence (literally: Unicorns appear on especially starry nights) and joins Bo at the Sparklegrove School for Unicorns, where they study things like unicorn magic. Each unicorn has a special power; Bo’s is granting wishes. Not knowing what his own might be distresses new unicorn Sunny. When the week’s assignment is to earn a patch by using their unicorn powers to help someone, Bo hopes Sunny will wish to know Bo's power (enabling both unicorns to complete the task, and besides, Bo enjoys Sunny’s company and wants to help him). But when the words come out wrong, Sunny thinks Bo was feigning friendship to get to grant a wish and earn a patch, setting up a fairly sophisticated conflict. Bo makes things up to Sunny, and then—with the unicorns friends again and no longer trying to force their powers—arising circumstances enable them to earn their patches. The cheerful illustrations feature a sherbet palette, using patterns for texture; on busy pages with background colors similar to the characters’ color schemes, this combines with the absence of outlines to make discerning some individual characters a challenge. The format, familiar to readers of Elliott’s Owl Diaries series, uses large print and speech bubbles to keep pages to a manageable amount of text.

A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32332-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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When Fred leaves his parents for the first time, his plans to be a ferocious dragon hit a snag. First Mrs. Green, the frog,...

A POOR EXCUSE FOR A DRAGON

Fred learns how to be true to himself and still be a dragon.

When Fred leaves his parents for the first time, his plans to be a ferocious dragon hit a snag. First Mrs. Green, the frog, mocks his roar as being like a meow, so, though Fred is supposed to eat humans, he gobbles her in one gulp. The princess thinks Fred’s fire looks like a candle, and a tiny bird is not afraid of him. They too meet in Fred’s tummy. Turns out, three’s a crowd for Fred’s stomach, and his intestinal pain leads him a solution that works for him and his crowd of helpers and new friends. Designed to encourage confident reading, the story alternates between long pages of text and highly illustrated pages with few words. Cartoon illustrations, especially details like the dragon’s red eyes and the giant’s warts and earring, help the newly independent reader follow the story, providing lots of visual cues which add the humor. When human John Little voluntarily walks into Fred’s open mouth and extricates his complaining contents, the illustrations turn energetic, with flying critters filling the air. New readers will love the humorous pictures and stay for the engaging tale.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-87180-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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