Middle Grade Review: Unikorn (Don Handfield)

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About This Book:

Young Mae lost her mother in a tragic accident a few years back, although her mother's body was never recovered from the raging river into which their car crashed. Mae is devastated because her father, now that enough time has elapsed for proof of death, must sell off his wife's farm, along with her wild stallion Percy, who seems dangerous to anyone who comes near him. However, when Mae realizes that Percy is really a unicorn with amazing powers, she teams with a group of her young friends to save the creature from an age-old billionaire who sustains his life through unicorn blood -- and who is now determined to get Percy in his clutches. But unless Mae can find Percy's missing unicorn horn, and restore the full extent of his magical powers, it appears that he is doomed -- unless Mae can pull off a last-minute miracle to save Percy from a terrible fate...

*Review Contributed by Mark Buxton, Staff Reviewer*

The innocent must be protected from evil.
 
What worked:

Many young readers love horses, and unicorns are even better! The spelling in the book’s title refers to unicorns that have lost their horns, and that creates the backdrop of the story. Mae’s mom had a veterinary practice on an old farm, and Mae now helps tend the animals for the farm owner. The animals have quirks, Percy the horse only eats goat food, so readers know there’s something unusual about this place. The stump on Percy’s forehead foreshadows his true identity.
The story deals with grieving and friendship. Mae’s father is having a very hard time mourning his wife’s death, and he displays a wide range of emotions common to the grieving process. There’s even a scene where the book labels the various feelings he’s experiencing. With her father not always thinking clearly, Mae relies on her friends and solicits help from two other classmates. The friends are skeptical when Mae shares what’s going on, but they stick by her and provide support.
This graphic novel is full of colorful, informative illustrations. The pictures show the facial expressions of Mae and her father as they battle emotions for the dead mother, and they help readers visualize the physical transformations of a couple of characters. The visuals replace words during the chase scenes, and they’re very effective through the fast-paced action. The illustrations provide detail to the setting without using words that might slow down the plot.

What didn’t work as well:

The graphic novel doesn’t fully develop characters, since the artwork replaces descriptive words that might have been used. Readers can’t thoroughly interpret underlying details by interpreting pictures. However, the author is able to communicate a great deal about Mae, the main character, since the plot is told from her point of view. The description of Mae and her feelings is enough to carry the story.

The Final Verdict:

The innocent must be protected from evil. The authors deftly blend words and illustrations to share this emotional story of loss and discovery. The colorful pictures and exciting story will appeal to young readers, and I highly recommend you give it a shot.
 

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*

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