Wednesday, September 23, 2009

REVIEW: Sarah's Unicorn

Coville, B. (1985) Sarah’s Unicorn
48 pages – 9780064430845

Thirty second summary: Sarah lives in the woods with her Aunt Mag, a terribly wicked witch. When Sarah makes friends with a unicorn, Mag finds out! She plans to cut off the unicorn’s horn and use it in her spells. Sarah is forced to fight back with the help of her animal friends and the magical (but slightly snooty) unicorn Oakhorn.

Sarah’s Unicorn has the distinction of being the first book I ever purchased. It wasn’t a monetary deal per se – my local bookstore hosted a summer reading program, and for every twenty-five books I read, I’d get a $5 coupon. I easily spent two hours looking over every single book in the children’s area until I finally settled on Sarah’s Unicorn, and let me tell you, it was a brilliant purchase on my part.

This book is fantastic. Sarah is exactly the kind of girl every six-year-old wishes she could be – orphaned, barefoot and clothed in rags, skipping through the forest, talking with squirrels and ladybugs… and did I mention, she’s best friends with a unicorn? A unicorn. Tell me the six-year-old still hiding in your psyche didn’t squeal with delight at that thought. (It’s okay to admit it, Guy Readers. We won’t think less of you.)

The book has the additional benefit of a legitimately evil character. Although we know Aunt Mag *used* to be nice (before an unfortunate spell-rebound – kids, don’t play with cauldrons unless you know what you’re doing!) she stomps across the pages like everything you could ever hope for in a wicked witch. And honestly, wanting to chop the horn off a unicorn? That’s just harsh.

Coville is a genius, as I’m sure all of you know, but this is far and away one of his most light-hearted and… well, girly children’s books, complete with beautiful illustrations. He bypasses his usual aliens and monsters and boy heroes and focuses on Sarah, a (fairly) ordinary girl who clings to the firm belief that most people are inherently good. I can’t tell you the ending, obviously, but I’ll give you a hint: Happily ever after. And there’s a unicorn!

I apologize, friends, because this is the second book in a week I’ve reviewed that’s relatively difficult to find. It’s out of print – a crime even worse than lopping the horn off a unicorn, in my opinion – and so your best bet will be your local library or Amazon. Make the effort, though. I promise, it’s worth it.

Quotes of Note:

”Once Mag had asked Sarah to gather flowers. Now she made her gather toads and spiders.”

”Sarah didn’t want to go. The forest was scary at night. But if she didn’t go, Mag would make it rain in her bedroom for a week.”

”She gave Oakhorn a kiss. He made an awful face.”

Tasty Rating: !!!!!

If you thought this was delicious, try:
Into the Land of the Unicorns, also by Bruce Coville
Imagine Sarah’s Unicorn all grown up, with a little more danger and a lot more awesome. The first in an extremely slow-to-be-written series.

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