Review: the Legend of the First Unicorn

first unicornThe unicorn on the cover of this book is so majestic that it seems to call you to turn the page and discover what’s inside, and the story that unfolds within is no less enchanting.

The Legend of the First Unicorn is a fable about a young prince who has lost his smile, and the drama that follows when the kingdom’s magician, and his grand-daughter, conjure up magical beings in a bid to make the prince happy again.

Hana creates and names the first-ever unicorn, a calm, glowing creature that inspires all who see it, but her grandfather’s beast turns out to be a monstrous winged lion intent on a battle that only the children can stop.

Lari Don has a particular talent for building fresh and exciting stories on the foundations of folklore (the Legend of the Loch Ness Monster was a similarly skilful piece of work) and this story feels wonderfully familiar, even as you itch to discover what happens next.

There’s plenty of magic, but it’s old-style Scottish magic, without any pink glitter, and all the more potent for it.

The Legend of the First Unicorn is a perfect first foray into folklore for a young reader, but also a reminder that picture books are not just for pre-schoolers –  this rich blend of words and Nataša Ilinčić’s striking pictures should be enjoyed by much older children (and grown-ups) too.

The Legend of the First Unicorn, by Lari Don and Nataša Ilinčić (Kelpies)

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