Sunday, March 23, 2008


Publisher Review: Unicorn Races

by Stephen J. Brooks, ill. Linda Crockett. From Purple Sky Publishing, a small press from Missouri.

First: here's my promise about Publisher Reviews, reviews of books which, like this one, have been sent to me by the publisher for review.

Second: This book was suggested to me by the publisher as possibly fitting the category of Advanced Picture Book. Here's a little information about those in general and what they are.

This picture books announces from the sparkly-titled, purply-hued, puffy-textured front cover that it is a book for a girly girl. The inside pages, in illustration and in story, follow this through and won't disappoint the frilliest, most princess-and-unicorn obssessed of young ones.

I am, I will be honest, not a girly girl or particularly in love with overly girly stories, so my first reaction to this is not to b drawn in, but to approach with caution! Knowing this of myself, I decided to test this one on someone who is a girly girl - my daughter, Pumpkinpie, of nearly four years of age. And much as it is not what I would choose, it is now a nightly read because it is right up her alley.

The story is simple - a young girl sneaks out at bedtime in her finest princess garb, mounts a unicorn, and rides away to a magic clearing filled with fairies, elves, and unicorns, who will race in the moonlight. The princess decides the winner, and rides back to bed as the fairies begin a great goodie-laden feast. Whether this is dream or fantasy or real live magic is left unclear, and not addressed.

The illustrations are, thoughout, suffused with pink and purple and a sort of glow about the characters that suggests magic. They are, in some places, quite realistic, while in other places have a touch of impressionism about them. For someone like Pumpkinpie, who adores this sort of thing, they are quite lovely, in fact, although they are not, as I say, to my personal taste.

Although I had hoped this would be a more advanced picture book to be more in line with this site's usual age ranges, it was quite suitable for someone as young as three, like Pumpkinpie, as the content is quite gentle. I can see, though, that a girl of 7 or 8 who was reading early chapters with a girly bent such as the My Secret Unicorn series or any of a number of the fairy series available right now would love it. I certainly have plenty of girls in that older age bracket at the library still asking for slightly schlocky princess-y stuffthat makes me cringe a bit - and they would adore it!

This book is available through the publisher or from Amazon.

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It saddens me that books about unicorns always tend to end up in the girly, frilly camp. I'm not girly, but I love fantasy - which includes unicorns.
I actually jsut found another unicorn book that is NOT girly, but is about imagining an adventures in your own backyard - very Backyardigans wtihout the commercialism, actually - and the character is ambiguous in gender. It's called I Wished For a Unicorn, and it's be Robert Heidbreder, ill. Kady MacDonald Denton. It's going to get a mention on MBT some time soon.
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