CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 7 . . . . October 14, 2011
Most girls would be over the moon if a sparkly unicorn BFF appeared on their birthday, but Alice is far from impressed. The fact is that Alice is anything but a girly girl: she’s not a fan of glitter; the colour pink makes her want to gag; and she has absolutely no use at all for a unicorn. To her great chagrin, one of these magical creatures takes a decided fancy to her, and Alice simply cannot get him to go away and leave her alone! As it turns out, however, unicorns have a special brand of persistence that can work its way into the most resistant of hearts. While the themes of difference, acceptance, forgiveness, and friendship that the story explores are certainly standard fare in children’s literature, Mullock manages to give them a unique twist in this sweet and quirky tale.
Even at first glance, it is apparent that this is a title with considerable shelf appeal. Not only is the story’s premise intriguing, but the glittery cover alone will keep this book flying off library shelves. In addition, Mullock’s text is full of clever humour that both children and adults will appreciate. For instance, readers will chuckle at the unicorn’s obliviousness and Alice’s growing exasperation when she tries to discourage her admirer by pointing out that he is technically an imaginary creature, only to find that the news actually makes him “feel more special.” Mullock tells her story in pithy prose that generally lends itself well to being read aloud. One interesting feature is that the text relies heavily upon printer’s ornaments to create breaks in the narrative. Unfortunately, these divisions frequently seem unnecessary and even slightly jarring, as they interrupt the easy flow of the text.
The text’s constant refrain of “Go away, unicorn” seems somewhat simplistic alongside the far more sophisticated language and reasoning that Alice employs elsewhere in the book, but this repetition does offer a good opportunity for participation during storytime. Children will enjoy chanting along and guessing whether or not the unicorn will finally take the hint. At the same time, Mullock introduces surprising variations within this repetitive structure that keep her narrative fresh and interesting, such as the fact that Alice’s attempted rebuffs are foiled first by the unicorn’s optimism, then by his inattentiveness, and finally by his downright sneakiness.
Megan Sorenson is an MLIS student at the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies in Vancouver, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.