I’m reading these two books specifically for the second category of the TwentyTen Reading Challenge. That is the “T.B.R.” (or “to be read”) category. The description for that challenge is “Intended to help reduce the old T.B.R. pile. Books for this category must be already residents of your bookshelves as of 1/11/09.” These are the only two books that I’m positive fit the requirements. (By the way, the date is November 1, 2009, not January 11, 2009 as it looks like to people in the United States.)
Anyways, my mom bought me these two books a few years back because she knows how much I love unicorns and that I actively by things (books and DVDs, mostly) for the children that I will one day have, but I’ve yet to read them. The illustrations on the cover are gorgeous and, when I originally got them and flipped through them, I remembered that the illustrations in both the books were beautiful, too.
It wasn’t until I pulled the books down to read them for this challenge that I realized that they were written and illustrated by the same two people, Mariana Mayer and Michael Hague, respectively.
There is a kind of history of the unicorn at the very beginning of the book. Mayer states that this book is based on the “Physiologus,” the “Itinerarius,” and the Unicorn Tapestries. In the beginning of the story, the unicorn lives among the rest of the world and the animals can all speak among each other. Men, however, hunt the unicorn forcing him into hiding and taking magic from the land meaning that animals could only speak to other animals like themselves. (is: rabbit to rabbit, bird to bird) All animals and humans forgot that the unicorn had existed. The serpent was the only enemy. A drought caused the lake to recede and animals began to die off. The only happy animal was the serpent because his prey couldn’t fight him off.
To tell any more of the story would ruin it, but it’s worth it. In my opinion, it’s not a book for extremely young children because the illustrations are extremely vivid and so is the detail used in the writing. It is, however, an amazing story and I would say that if the child can read on his own then he’s old enough to understand the themes in this book. I can’t wait until I have children that are old enough to read it and I’m really glad that I finally read it! :-)
This book also includes a bit of history about unicorns, but it’s less detailed than the one in “The Unicorn and the Lake.” As the title implies, it’s an alphabet book with each letter starting a different word (or phrase) that is then tied to the unicorn. The illustrations in this book are outstanding and so involved. At the end of the book you’re told that the borders for each letter are a plant starting with that letter and, if they aren’t mentioned in the text of the book (and several of them are) they’re listed at the back of the book and you’re given a bit of information about them.
Now, while this book doesn’t really have a lower age limit like I feel the other book does, it isn’t appropriate for learning the alphabet. This is more for someone who knows how to read and loves unicorns, like me! :-D
For those who are curious about the beautiful tapestries, you can take a “guided tour” of them here. It’s quite interesting, and I learned new things about the tapestries that I hadn’t known before. :-)