Friday, January 02, 2015

Review: A Plague of Unicorns

A Plague of Unicorns
Jane Yolen
ISBN: 978-0-310-74648-5

Even as a child, I’ve loved stories about the trials, journeys, and quests that boys endure. I’m not sure why. I’d like to think I focus so much on stories with boy teen protagonists for some wonderfully sane and enlightened reason. But I don’t think that’s wholly true. I suspect some part of it is my personality but the other part might simply be that I grew up on the stuff: Shakespearean characters, Grimm fairytales, cultural folklore, and all those tragic Bible princes tend to be pretty boy-focused.

The golden apples in Cranford Abbey haven't been particularly useful and so the monks and abbots have allowed the unicorns to nibble them. However, when Abbot Aelian arrives, he brings with him his greagrandmother's recipe for Gold Apple Cider. The unicorns and their nibbling will have to go.

But unicorns are not easily gotten rid of. Even though heroes come from many nations to battle them.

James is not a hero. He is a very energetic very curious future duke who continually pummels everyone for miles around with questions, especially unanswerable ones. He is the one who figures out how to get rid of the unicorns.

This is a fun humorous, little book. The vocabulary is easy enough for middle readers, although it takes place in a Roman Catholic world, and there are Roman Catholic words scattered throughout. Theis might be problematic for some children who have never heard words like abbeys, abbots, and turrets thrown around. But one does not have to be Roman Catholic to enjoy it and a child who reads about knights and dungeons will enter the worldbuilding of this story easily.

There is nothing offensive to Christians to it, no wizards or ogres. So Christian readers who are against certain fantastical elements should like it. It's not religious but people with extreme atheists or extreme Islamic beliefs might be upset about mentions of the Bible.  

The illustrations are black and white and nicely-done. Recommended.

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