Briony May Smith
Children seem to love unicorns and stories about these mythical creatures. I have no doubt they will love this gentle one of Briony’s with its atmospheric setting; it definitely stands out from the crowd.
Margaret and her parents have moved to a distant cottage in the mountains to be near Grandma. To the child, this house feels strange and unfriendly so her parents send her out to explore while they organise things inside. Don’t go beyond the big stone, they warn.
As Margaret walks she suddenly notices what at first glance seems like mist over the sea but then she realises it’s unicorns leaping across the skyline, only to vanish almost immediately.
On her way back she comes upon a baby unicorn tangled in the weeds presumably left behind by the others. Having freed the little creature, she carries it back home.
With her grandma’s help, the girl tends the little unicorn, buying it flowers to eat and making a nest in Margaret’s new room. That night she and her father don wellies and go to collect some of the “water touched by moonlight” her gran had said it would drink. And so it does, making its horn glow with magic in the dark.
Over the changing seasons Margaret nurtures her little unicorn while at the same time gradually thinking less about her old home. ‘When a unicorn is your friend, you wish spring would stay far away.’ she tells readers but inevitably come it does and with it the other unicorns, among which is her unicorn’s mother. It’s time to bid a sad farewell to her friend
and then the unicorns depart.
By the following spring Margaret has made some new friends and feels settled in this beautiful environment; but will she ever see her unicorn friend again?
Yes there’s magic in this lyrical tale but never of the sparkly sort; rather it has an earthiness fed by the landscapes and the seasonal changes all around, so beautifully captured in the illustrations, that and the love.