Bo’s Magical New Friend

Bo Tinseltail loves going to Sparklegrove School with the other unicorns. Every unicorn has magical power. Bo is a Wish Unicorn with the power to grant wishes. Bo has lots of friends, but one thing Bo wants more than anything is a best friend. When a new unicorn named Sunny Huckleberry pops into the forest, will Bo’s big wish finally come true? And what will Sunny’s unicorn power be?

Young readers who are ready for a glittery-good new series need to check out Bo’s Magical New Friend. The first installment of The Unicorn Diaries Series introduces all the unicorns and their magical powers. As part of the early chapter book line, Branches, the text is aimed at newly independent readers. Bo’s Magical New Friend is told in a blend of diary entries and speech bubbles. The blended text makes each page manageable for young readers. Plus, some of the words appear in bright pink text for added emphasis.

Bo wants a best friend, so he’s especially happy when Sunny appears. To earn a patch, all of the unicorns need to use their magical power to help someone. Bo really wants to use his power to help Sunny. However, Sunny gets upset because he thinks Bo is pretending to be his friend to earn a patch. In the end, Sunny and Bo talk about their conflict and discover that friendship is more important than badges.

Bo’s Magical New Friend is packed full of magic. However, in the next book, Bo and the Dragon-Pup, the unicorns are able to problem solve without relying on magic. Readers will fall in love with the unicorns’ world which comes alive in brightly colored illustrations. Bo’s world is “glitterrific,” and readers will happily imagine a place where sunbeam ice cream, dream dust, and twirl drops are served for dessert.

The story revolves around a relatable conflict and fun characters—Sunny and Bo. When Mr. Rumptwinkle introduces Sunny, he reminds the class, “I’m sure you remember how scary everything was when you were new. So please be kind to Sunny and help him find his way around.” Even though Sunny has a hard time discovering his magical power, he always looks on the bright side and makes others laugh. If you’re looking for a book series that will captivate readers, The Unicorn Diaries will not disappoint.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Trolls capture Bo and Sunny. “We got swept up in a net.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • All the unicorns have a special power. Bo is a Wish Unicorn that “can grant one wish every week.” The other unicorns have powers such as flying, healing, shapeshifting, size-changing, etc.
  • Unicorns do not have parents. “We’re not born like other creatures are. We just pop into the world on really starry nights.”
  • Rumptwinkle turns into a mouse.
  • Sunny discovers that his unique power is turning invisible.

Spiritual Content

  • None

Exile

 

Sophie is settling in nicely to her new home and her new life in the world of the lost cities. And it helps that living at Havenfield means getting to spend time with rare, precious species—including the first female Alicorn– who shows herself to Sophie and trusts only her.

Sophie is tasked with helping to train the magical creature so that the Alicorn can be revealed to the people of the lost cities as a sign of hope. Sophie wants to believe that the recent drama and anguish are gone for good.

But the secrets buried deep in Sophie’s memories remain, and before long, she’s back in incredible danger, risking everything to find the answers to questions that could save not only her life but the life of someone close to her…

From the first page, Exile jumps into action and takes the reader on an adventure through the elf’s world. The story focuses on the mystery of the Black Swan and Sophie’s unique talents—telepathy, teleportation, understanding all languages, and being able to perform a brain push. The intrigue around Sophie’s beginnings adds danger, suspense, and mystery. The moments between Sophie and her friends also give the story added depth as well as blush-worthy awkward boy scenes. As the narrator, Sophie draws the reader into her life and highlights the dangers of guilt. One councilman tells Sophie, “Guilt is a treacherous thing. It creeps in slowly, breaking you down bit by bit.”

Exile is extremely entertaining, but the complicated plot, the large cast of characters, and the political intrigue make Exile more suitable for strong, middle school readers. Scenes between Sophie and a high-maintenance unicorn add humor and glitter to the story. Sophie’s friends—who don’t always get along with each other—give the story heart. The heartwarming conclusion leaves several questions left unanswered, which will have readers reaching for the next book in the series, Everblaze. However, readers should be warned, Sophie’s adventures will draw you into the action and leave you wanting to read every book in the series, which has 8.5 books (and counting).

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • When a man sees Sophie’s family pendant, “He lunged for her. Sophie shrieked and tried to block him, but he pinned her shoulders to her chair with one arm while his other hand tore at her cape.” Sophie is scared, but not injured.
  • Fintan creates a fire. “Flashes of orange thrashed among the yellow flames, and Fintan stumbled to his feet, realizing they were the figures of his friends. . . All he could do was watch their agonized faces as the fire attacked. Then he dropped to his knees and vomited.”
  • While performing a brain push, Alden and Sophie are injured when “a wave of heat shot up Alden’s arm, burning Sophie’s hand. . .” Alden falls to the floor. “Alden lay unconscious, a large gash on his forehead streaking his face red.”
  • By using his power, Bronte inflicts pain on Sophie. “The harder Sophie tried to fight the heat, the hotter it burned. . . Sophie screamed and felt her body collapse as the searing heat raged through her mind like an inferno.” Sophie takes a serum that made it so she “couldn’t feel, couldn’t think, just lay there and soaked up the freedom of being so light, so calm, so completely unburdened.”
  • A group of cloaked people throw a net over Sophie, Keefe, and the Alicorn. “Keefe aimed at the figure who was armed, but before he fired, one of the other figures nailed Keefe in the head with a rock. The melder slipped from his hand. . .” Keefe uses a throwing star and “the silver blades clipped the figures shoulder, tearing his cloak and making him drop his end of the net.” During the struggle, the Alicorn’s wing is broken.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Several times, Sophie is given serums called “Achey Break,” “Fade Fuel,” and another one called “Youth.” When she drinks the Achey Break, “it rushed through her like warm bubbles floating into all the places she’d felt sore.” The water had a special enzyme that helped keep everyone healthy.
  • Alden geos into an unconscious state and is given sedatives to keep him from thrashing.
  • When Sophie is upset, a healer gives her a “salty medicine.” After she takes it, “the room didn’t just become clearer—it became brighter. Lighter. Things weren’t so bad, really. How could they be when there was this cool rush racing through her, filling her with life and energy and lifting her higher. . .”
  • A dwarf gives Sophie a sedative so he can take her to a secret location.

Language

  • Other elves call Sophie a freak.
  • One of the council members calls Sophie’s adoptive parents “two of the world’s most scandalous misfits.” Later, a council member calls Sophie’s adoptive father an “insolent fool.”
  • Several times, a boy calls his brother an idiot.
  • One of Sophie’s friends asks, “Ugh, how do I apologize for being the hugest jerk ever?”

Supernatural

  • Sophie is an elf with many powers including teleportation and understanding all languages. In addition, “Sophie was the only Telepath who could track thoughts to their exact location—and the only one who could read the minds of animals.”
  • Sophie uses a “brain push” that allows her to channel “energy from her core into her legs” so she can run faster.
  • In the elf world, some elves use a crystal to “light leap” to another location. For example, Sophie “stepped into the light, letting the warmth swell under her skin like thousands of tickling feathers as the simmering rush swept her and the alicorn away.”
  • A spectral mirror has a girl in it. Sophie is told the mirror works because of “a clever bit of programming.”
  • Sophie’s adoptive mother, Edaline can “pull things out of thin air.”
  • Sophie’s adoptive father, Grady, is a Mesmer. He says, “I could make anyone do anything they needed. I could mesmerize the entire Council if I wanted to, make them sight any law into effect. I could make them all jump off a cliff if I felt like it.”
  • One of Sophie’s classmates says her special ability will “probably be a Guster like my dad. Controlling the wind—whoop-de-fricking-do.”
  • Dwarves mine a mineral called magsidian. “It has an inherent field that draws things to it, and you can change what it draws by how you carve it.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

Even and Odd

Sisters Even and Odd are magical on alternating days—they may live in an ordinary corner of Connecticut, but they were born in Firoth, a land of spells and enchantments. Even loves magic and everything about it. Odd just wants to fit in with the volunteers at the local animal shelter. While Odd wishes her magic would go away, Even practices magic every chance she gets, dreaming of the day she’ll be ready to become a hero of Firoth.

When the hidden border between the mundane and magical worlds shuts abruptly, the girls find themselves trapped in Firoth. Anxious to reunite with their parents, and assisted by a young unicorn named Jeremy, they discover a wizard is stealing border magic—and that the results will be catastrophic, not just for them, but for all of Firoth! Someone has to stop the wizard; Even realizes she cannot wait until she feels ready, she must be a hero now.

Even and Odd will please readers because the fast-paced story is full of mystical creatures, and a romp into a land full of magic. The story focuses on Even, a likable character who isn’t afraid of jumping into new situations. Throughout the story, Even spends some time in the form of a skunk. This plot twist leads to humorous situations and also comes in handy in times of danger. The interplay between Even and Odd adds conflict in a sweet, sisterly way.

Jeremy, a unicorn, is a delightful and surprising addition to the cast of characters. Not only does Jeremy add humor to the story, but he is also very relatable. Like most children, Jeremy loves playing games, drinking soda, and “fears getting into trouble with his parents.” Jeremy wants to visit the human, aka the mundane-world, because, “Here, I’m just Shimmerglow—the unicorn kid who panics too easily and babbles too much. There. . . where you come from. . . I’d be different. Better.”

The end of the book drags because Jeremy, Even, and Odd are trusting their parents to solve the main conflict. When the three friends finally realize the adults are in danger, then they jump in to save them. However, readers may not understand the references to bureaucracy, and may not connect the commentary on Firoth’s closed borders to how it applies to today’s refugee crisis.

The magical world of Firoth is a fun world full of wonder that teaches the importance of teamwork, empathy, and helping others. Even though Even always dreamed of being a hero, she didn’t feel ready to confront the villain. But she realizes “‘ready’ didn’t matter as much as she’d thought it did. Maybe what mattered was that you did it anyway.” Even’s actions also reinforce the message that in every difficult situation, instead of worrying, you should think of reasons to be grateful.

Even and Odd is an entertaining story with plenty of action, adventure, and humor. Readers who want to step into another world with magic should add Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko to their reading list.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Even upsets an elf. Then, Even “felt soft, sticky ropes twining around her. She shrieked as she realized it wasn’t rope at all—it was spiderweb pulled from the plush panda and grown with magic. The webbing wrapped around her fast. . . the toy panda flew off the shelf. One leg stuffed itself into Even’s mouth. . .”
  • A flower fairy bites Odd, who is in the shape of a skunk. Odd “felt a sharp prick of pain. She yanked her paw back and cradled it against her furry chest. It felt like she’d gotten a flu shot right in the soft pad of her paw. A drop of blood welled up.”
  • A dragon shows up out of nowhere and begins chasing Jeremy, Odd, and Even (who is still a skunk). The group try running from the dragon, but then Even “scrambled up onto Odd’s back, stuck her tail in the air, and sprayed as hard as she could behind them as the dragon dove, skimming the fiery meadow. The spray hit the dragon’s mouth as it opened its jaws to breathe more fire. Coughing, it flew upward, away from them.”
  • Lady Vell is holding a group captive. In order to help, Jeremy, Even, and Odd lie to Lady Vell in order to get invited inside her house. When Jeremy gets disruptive, Lady Vell “flicked her wrist, and Jeremy was whooshed off the board and tossed onto a table covered in vines. The vines immediately wrapped around him. He was hoisted into the air.”
  • Lady Vell sends “creepy dolls” to attack Even. The dolls “surrounded her. . . A doll began to climb up her leg. She shook it off as two leaped up to cling to her arm. . .Kicking at the dolls as if she were playing soccer, Even knocked them away.” Even sprays the dolls with soda and “the dolls collapsed.” The creepy doll scene is described over two pages.
  • Lady Vell grabs Even. “Even yelled as she felt Lady Vell’s hand close around her wrist. Her fingers were boney, and she squeezed so tight that it hurt.” Odd changes Even into a skunk. “Lifting up her gloriously fluffy tail, Even sprayed, aiming at Lady Vell’s face.” Lady Vell lets Even go.
  • Jeremey, Even, and Odd set the captive adults free. “The wizard sent her fireball spinning across the room, and the flames wrapped around Lady Vell’s wrists like handcuffs.”

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Many different types of creatures live in the magic world, including women with antlers, a snake with nine heads, and a green-skinned two-foot-tall man.
  • Even and Odd live in a world where magic exists. When Even annoyed her sister, Odd turned Even into a half skunk, half cat. Throughout the story Even shapeshifts. Occasionally, other people change Even’s form as well.
  • Even can levitate “like an astronaut in zero gravity.”
  • Even and Odd’s father performs an un-cursing. Odd mixed the ingredients: “a quart of water purified by a unicorn, dirt from a dragon mountain, holly leaves (labeled wings of bat), and a can of sprite that had been wrapped in paper labeled with runes to look more magical.”
  • “Soda negated magic. . . it did an excellent job on stuff like cursed amulets, enchanted roses and uncooperative spell books.”
  • Jeremy is a unicorn and can poop cupcakes.
  • For an unknown reason, all the unicorns’ homes switched places with a lake. A goblin explains, “And sometimes your home up and moves on no matter how polite you are.”
  • Even and Odd’s mother takes a house out of storage. The house magically expands when new people arrive.

Spiritual Content

  • None

Princess Lessons

Sasha, a flying horse, has just discovered that she is princess of the flying horses! But before she can attend to any royal duties, she has to take a difficult Princess Test. To make matters worse, plant pixies are trying to capture Sasha so they can use her magic wings. If the pixies steal too many feathers, a flying horse becomes too weak to fly. Can Sasha pass the Princess Test and stop the pixies from stealing the flying horses’ feathers?”

Verdant Valley is a magical place where horses live. However, danger is at Verdant Valley’s door. In order to help, Sasha studies to pass her Princess Test. However, the skills that Sasha learns aren’t skills of character. In order to pass the Princess Test, Sasha “pranced and flew. She ate and drank in a princess-y way. She won the staring contest. Flowers stayed in her mane when she ran. She remembered the ancient battles and the song of the giant snail.” While young readers will enjoy the tale, the story portrays Sasha as a typical princess who needs to be “fancy.”

Princess Lessons shows the importance of not keeping a secret if the secret puts someone else in danger. When Sasha prepares to leave Crystal Cover, Sasha asks her friend, Kimai, to keep a secret. However, Kimai tells the secret to the safety patrol. At first, Sasha is upset that Kimai didn’t keep the secret. Kimai says, “I am your friend. I broke my promise only because it’s not safe for you to leave.” Later Sasha forgives Kimai and realizes her friend did the right thing.

Princess Lessons has a high-interest topic—horses and pixies. The story’s nine short chapters, large font, and black-and-white illustrations make Princess Lessons accessible to young readers. Plus, the book’s large illustrations will help readers understand the plot.

Young readers will relate to Sasha as she tries, and fails, to learn new skills. While Sasha does not always do what’s right, she clearly cares about others. The conclusion ends abruptly, without solving the problem of the plant pixies, so readers will be eager to see what happens in the next book, The Plant Pixies. If you’re looking for a book series that young readers will love, the Tales of Sasha series will keep readers engaged with 12+ books to choose from.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • When Sasha tries to leave Crystal Cover, two green horses “threw two long, silver ribbons at her. One ribbon wrapped around one of her hind legs. The other ribbon wrapped around her nose. . . Together, the green horses gently pulled Sasha down to the Crystal Cove beach.” The two horses were trying to protect Sasha.

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • A spell was put over Verdant Valley to keep the plant pixies away, but “the spell must have been broken when you went through the big trees.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

Behind the Legend: Unicorns

Are elegant, elusive unicorns real, or just a myth? Behind the Legend looks at creatures and monsters throughout history and analyzes them through a scientific, myth-busting lens, debating whether or not the sightings and evidence provided are adequate proof of their existence.

In Unicorns, readers learn about all the sightings and “proof” of unicorns, from stories in history of people like Julius Caesar and Marco Polo who sought unicorns to why they were hunted so fiercely. This book also discusses additional history about the creatures, such as why their horns were so valued in medieval times, their presence in pop culture, and peoples’ ongoing search for unicorns in modern times.

Even though Unicorns is non-fiction, it is filled with many interesting stories explaining how different myths of unicorns started. The book begins in ancient times and goes in chronological order to modern day. Using factual stories, Peabody explains different cultures’ legends including Persia, Greece, China, and Europe.

Unicorn is incredibly engaging and will appeal to even the most reluctant readers. The oversized text and short passages are easy to read. Plus, large black-and-white illustrations appear on almost every page, and they show the reader different drawings of unicorns that appeared in books through the ages. Plus, the illustrations include pictures of some of the historical figures who believed in unicorns.

Peabody explains the reasons that legends of unicorns persisted throughout ancient times. One reason is that “long ago, the idea of investigating a claim or conducting independent research did not exist.” While the book’s cover says, “fact or fiction, you decide,” the book says that today most people believe that unicorns do not exist. Instead, “You may be bummed to learn that many ancient ‘unicorns’ were likely just rhinos, oryx, and narwhals in disguise.” Despite this, readers will be eager to read Unicorns and the book encourages readers to find out more about unicorns by giving a list of more books about unicorns.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • An ancient Greek scholar helped the king. “When Artaxerxes II’s power-hungry brother Cyrus attacked the king with a javelin and nearly killed him, Ctesias rushed in and successfully treated the Persian leader, thus saving the day.”
  • In the early seventeenth century, Giulia Tofana was an “infamous poison peddler.” She sold poison to women “so if they felt trapped in an unhappy marriage—or worse, were being abused, or hurt, by their husbands—they might have gone to Tofana to plan an escape.” Tofana may have caused an estimated six hundred deaths and she “was eventually put to death herself.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • People used to believe a unicorn horn had healing properties. “According to one medieval physician, a horn was an effective treatment ‘for all poisons, for fevers, for bites of mad dogs and scorpions, for falling sickness, worms, fluxes, loss of memory, the plague, and prolongation of youth.’”
  • A physician experimented on two cats. The physician gave both cats poison. “Sadly, the kittens died, but there were some positive outcomes. Starting in the 1600s, educated people began to realize that expensive horns didn’t have medicinal values.”

Language

  • Early scrolls call unicorns “wild asses” and the book refers to unicorns this way a few times.

Supernatural

  • Bones were used to make dice. “Fortune-tellers and vision seekers also consulted early dice to “read the future and make tough decisions.”
  • In Japan and China, unicorns were “considered sacred. Even a fleeting glimpse of the stunning creature was thought to bring good fortune.”

Spiritual Content

  • The Bible mentions unicorns. “The animal doesn’t conduct any miracles, nor does it fly across the heavens wearing a radiant halo. No, the Bible’s unicorn is a very normal, no-big-deal kind of animal. . . If we believe one version of a famous Bible tale, the unicorn also had a reputation for getting a little rowdy.”
  • A “funny Hebrew folktale” talks about Noah’s Ark. When Noah was leading the animals into the arc, the unicorns “refused to listen to Noah. . .. The impertinent horsies try Noah’s patience. With the rains coming and no time to spare, Noah pulls up the plank and closes the arc’s door.”
  • The book explains how different texts describe unicorns. “As for the Bible, many, many writers contributed to the ancient book. The texts of the Old Testament, in which unicorns appear, were originally written in Hebrew, then translated into Greek, then Latin, then into English. Is it possible a language error occurred?”

Fair and Square

In Chapter 1, Unicorn and Yeti talk about their favorite shapes—stars, squares, and circles. Using these shapes, the two friends create a village in the snow. Yeti likes triangles because “lots of my favorite things are triangles, like trees and ice cream cones.”

In Chapter 2, Unicorn and Yeti are both painting, but they paint differently. Yeti looks at Unicorn’s picture and feels bad about his own paintings because he thinks they look messy. But Unicorn likes Yeti’s paintings. She says, “My paintings only look like what we see. Your paintings are fancy. They look like magic!” Even though the two friends paint in different ways, both of their artwork is beautiful.

In Chapter 3, Unicorn and Yeti are sharing a pie. Yeti cuts the pie in half, but Yeti cannot eat all of his pie. Yeti offers the rest to Unicorn, who is hungry. Unicorn worries that “I will get more pie than you. That will not be fair.” In the end, Unicorn eats the rest of the offered pie because, “If I eat your pie, then we will both be full. Fair and square.”

Children who are learning to read will enjoy reading about Unicorn and Yeti’s adventures, which teach about friendship. The text is easy to read and when each character talks, their words appear in different colored quote boxes. Each page has a full page of illustrations and contains three or fewer sentences. Beginning readers should be able to read the text alone and will enjoy flipping through the story multiple times to look at the colorful pictures.

The Unicorn and Yeti Series is perfect for all young readers, even the ones that become a little bit wiggly after a short time. Each book shows readers how to be a good friend, and encourages readers to embrace their own uniqueness. Fair and Square will introduce shapes, sharing, and show that things do not need to be the same to be beautiful. The story uses simple language to introduce important topics and each story is so much fun that readers won’t get bored.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Uni Brings Spring

Uni lives in the forest where she loves to visit her animal friends. Spring has finally arrived, and the animals are enjoying the warm air. But then a winter storm blankets everything in snow. All the forest animals are cold and hungry. How can Uni help her friends?

Readers will fall in love with Uni, a kind-hearted unicorn who wants to help her friends. One of the best attributes of Uni is her caring nature. When her friends are cold, Uni realizes that magic cannot solve the problem. However, Uni finds other ways to help her friends such as helping Robin put more leaves in her nest and helping a baby bear find his mother. The happy conclusion highlights how Uni’s actions helped her friends.

The contrast between the seasons becomes apparent through the full-page illustrations. Each page that illustrates spring has bright, cheerful colors. But when the snowstorm hits, the illustrations are predominantly white and blue-grey. Every page has 1 to 3 short sentences that readers will need to sound out.

Uni Brings Spring is perfect for young readers familiar with sight words. However, parents may need to help their child with unfamiliar words. All animal lovers will enjoy seeing Uni help others. Young readers who love unicorns should also read the Unicorn and Yeti Series by Heather Ayris Burnel.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Uni finds a magical icicle that caused winter to come back. “Uni’s horn can handle this icicle. One touch of Uni’s horn makes the icicle glow. Now rainbows dance on the cave walls.” Winter leaves.

Spiritual Content

  • None

Cheer Up

It’s winter and Unicorn and Yeti want to spend time together because they are each other’s best friend. When Unicorn gives Yeti a gift, Yeti wants to give Unicorn a gift too! Then, after Yeti is crunching icicles, Unicorn decides to eat icicles too! The icicles are yummy, but they make Unicorn so cold! Yeti has a solution—he’s going to knit Unicorn a hat, a scarf, and leg warmers for a gift. After Unicorn is warm, the two friends take a walk in the forest.

Unicorn and Yeti is a fun series designed for children who are learning to read. Cheer Up contains easy-to-read text. Each page has a full page of illustrations and contains no more than three sentences. When each character talks, their words appear in different colored quote boxes. Beginning readers should be able to read the text alone and will enjoy flipping through the story multiple times to look at the colorful pictures.

Cheer Up is the perfect book for all young readers—even the ones that become a little bit wiggly after a short time. As the fourth installment in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone story. Unicorn and Yeti show how friends can be different from each other and still enjoy a special friendship. The two friends react to things in different ways and their friendship helps them see another side to the situation. If you’re looking for a fun book that shows the importance of friendship, Cheer Up is a winter-themed book that will warm readers’ hearts.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

The Sky Unicorn

Ava travels to different towns with her parents as a part of a traveling troupe. As the group travels downriver, Ava sees a herd of unicorns. Ava sees Sir Fitzroy and his guards trying to capture the unicorns. Ava is horrified when Clover, a baby unicorn, is stolen from his herd by the evil Sir Fitzroy.

Then Ava meets a girl named Sophy, who gives her a magical stone. With the help of the magical stone, Ava and Sophy plan to rescue Clover. The two girls dress as page boys and sneak into town. Will the two girls be able to rescue Clover, or will Sir Fitzroy catch them first?

Sophy and Ava are sweet girls who care about animals. Several times throughout the story, the girls use creative problem-solving skills in order to help the unicorns. As the girls work together, they help and encourage each other. Even though the story’s setting is similar to a fairy tale, the girls are not princesses. Instead, Sophy is a castle maid and Ava performs in a traveling troupe, making the characters more relatable.

The story uses easy vocabulary, simple sentence structure, and black and white illustrations to make The Sky Unicorn accessible to younger readers. Illustrations appear every 1-3 pages, and they help readers understand the story’s plot. The Sky Unicorn has a high-interest topic, a non-scary villain, and two girls who save the day. Ava and Sophy are characters that readers will want to emulate; both girls are kind to animals, brave in the face of danger, and have positive attributes. Animal-loving, fairy tale fans should also add the Diary of an Ice Princess series by Christina Soontornvat to their reading list.

 Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Ava sees a knight and some guards chase the unicorn herd. The herd is able to safely hide.
  • Sir Fitzroy and his guards try to sneak up on the unicorn herd. “The men searched the path and peered at the lake, but after a few minutes they gave up and went back into town.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Ava and Sophy both have a Speaking Stone. The stone “lets you talk to magical animals.”
  • When Ava cuts her finger, a unicorn uses “secret magic” to heal Ava’s injury. “Ava watched in astonishment as the little unicorn bent his golden horn to touch her finger. Slowly the cut on her hand healed until it looked as if it had never been there at all.”
  • In order to send a message to a dragon, Sophy “called a golden songbird by whistling a special tune that Windrunner the dragon had taught her. Soon one of the birds heard her call. It flew down to perch on her hand and looked at her with bright black eyes.” The bird agrees to carry the message.

Spiritual Content

  • None

Dreams That Sparkle

Belissima is the prettiest pony at the Enchanted Pony Academy — everyone says so. The problem is, no one seems to see what else Belissima is: talented and hardworking. She dreams that someday everyone will see that her magic doesn’t have anything to do with her looks! When the royal children come to the Academy for the selection ceremony, Belissima is determined to show that she’s not just a pretty pony. It’s her last chance to prove that she can be so much more than a show pony.

Belissima is upset that people always make comments about her beauty. She wishes someone would notice that “she had the top grades in her class, or that she was a leader who always tries to be patient and pleasant with all the ponies at school.” Belissima even tries to hide her beauty because she is afraid that a royal child will choose her based on her looks and not on her personality. This story teaches that ponies (and people) have many aspects that make up his/her personality.

The students use the Magic Treats and Eats Cookbook to make some magical treats, which add some humor to the story. However, the story has little action and mostly focuses on Belissima’s attempts to hide her beauty. Some readers may have a hard time understanding Belissima’s conflict. Although Belissima finds her perfect match in the end, the two rarely interact. Unlike the previous books, this story has less action and the message is harder to understand.

Dreams that Sparkle will entertain those who have already transitioned to chapter books. Cute black and white illustrations help break up the text and appear every three to five pages. Although the vocabulary isn’t difficult, the text-heavy pages and long sentences may be overwhelming for beginning readers. Fans of the Enchanted Pony Academy books will enjoy the story. The Enchanted Pony Academy series does not need to be read in order; however, readers new to the series should begin with Let It Glow or Wings That Shine.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • Darn is used once.

Supernatural

  • Each pegapony has a different Glitter Gift. The Glitter Gifts include being able to become invisible, being able to talk to winged animals, teleportation, and making flowers bloom. One pegapony can even shoot sparks out of his horn.
  • Belissima’s Glitter Gift is making her coat change color and sparkle. Later she learns that her other Gift is healing magic, which only works on her perfect match.
  • Several times in the story, someone levitates an object. For example, “Daisy galloped into the stable with a tray levitated by her side.” Daisy’s tray has posy pies on it.
  • Trying to make herself less beautiful, Belissima cast a spell by saying, “With these shinny shears, snip my mane shorter than my ears.” When she chants the spell, “the scissors zoomed through the air, and she watched as strands of her mane fell to the barn floor around her.”
  • Belissima casts a spell so she can see what she looks like. She says, “In front of me here, make a mirror appear.” She uses the mirror and sees that her mane grew back.
  • Belissima cast a spell so she can write a message to a friend. She chants, “To Sunny, send this note, so she can see what I wrote.” After Belissima says the spell, “the note folded itself and flew through the air, right out the door.”
  • Daisy finds a book, Magic Treats and Eats Cookbook, and makes posy pie. When Belissima eats the treat, her breath smells like flowers for hours.
  • A pony makes a recipe that allows him to eat a treat and then a rainbow will appear out of his horn. When the pony does this, “a rainbow arched over the arena, and the colorful light enveloped [Belissima]” The rainbow makes Belissima’s Glitter Gift ever stronger.
  • Belissima makes a treat that will make her less beautiful. When she eats the treat, “her soft purple coat was covered in moldy green spots. . . The moldy spots were bigger and fuzzier than she’d expected. They were darker green, too. The rainbow must have really enhanced the power of the recipe.”
  • Headmaster Elegius can teleport through a silvery orb.

Spiritual Content

  • None

Let It Glow

Pegapony Electra loves to be outside, running as fast as she can—and she’s fast! Now that it’s time to learn to ride with the children at the Enchanted Pony Academy, Electra couldn’t be more excited. But riding is a lot harder than it looks. When Electra accidentally throws a prince onto the dirt, the other children are afraid to get in the saddle. Can she find her perfect match and keep working toward becoming a royal pony—before time runs out?

Readers will relate to Electra as she struggles to learn a new skill and worries that no one will like her. Electra is the fastest pegapony in her class, and she desperately wants a royal child to choose her as a pet. But during her first lesson, she doesn’t understand what the boy wants and accidently throws him off off the saddle. Soon Electra’s self-doubt causes her to wonder if she will be rejected during the choosing ceremony.

Let It Glow focuses on Electra’s struggle and connects it to Alana, who is afraid to try new things. Alana, who is in a wheelchair, wonders if her disability means that she cannot become her kingdom’s queen. Even though Electra is struggling with her own problems, she continues to encourage Alana. Electra’s willingness to help Alana is heartwarming and will show readers the power of kindness.

The story also highlights the importance of being careful with your words. When the children talk badly about Electra, Alana says, “Didn’t we talk about the importance of kindness in our class? Royal children are supposed to set a good example. Are you doing that by saying such nasty things to this nice pony?”

Let It Glow is the third book in the series. However, Enchanted Pony Academy books do not need to be read in order. Let It Glow will entertain those who have already transitioned to chapter books. Cute black and white illustrations help break up the text and appear every three to five pages. Although the vocabulary isn’t difficult, the text-heavy pages and long sentences may be overwhelming for beginning readers. Let It Glow will entertain readers as it teaches important life lessons about perseverance and kindness.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Electra comes to a sudden stop and “the boy flew forward, tumbling off the saddle onto the ground.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Each pegapony has a different Glitter Gift. The Glitter Gifts include being able to become invisible, being able to talk to winged animals, teleportation, and making flowers bloom. One pegapony can even shoot sparks out of his horn.
  • Electra’s Glitter Gift is making her horn and hooves glow. When she used her Gift, “she could feel a warm tingle whenever they started to light up.”
  • Several times in the story, someone levitates an object, which is usually the pegapony’s riding gear. For example, when Electra is getting ready for riding class, “Mulligan levitated the saddle onto her back and tightened the straps around her.”
  • Electra tries to go to the hundred kingdoms, but the stairs aren’t there. “Only the headmaster and headmistress could enchant the rainbow to form stairs.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

 

 

Search for the Mermicorn

Coral, Angel, and Shelly can’t wait to work on their school project about creatures in the ocean. There are so many animals to choose from! How do you pick just one? Then Angel remembers something she read about in a book–a mermicorn! It’s perfect…but are mermicorns real? Angel thinks so! And a student at the Science Center just might help her prove it!

The three purrmaid friends clearly love school and the library. As part of a class project, the purrmaids research sea animals and go to a science center to learn more. The purrmaids learn important sea creature facts that come into play later. The story reinforces the importance of learning about the natural world and respecting sea creatures.

As the friends research sea animals, they find a pod of narwhals and a lost mermicorn. The mermicorn tells the purrmaids, “Mermicorns like to stay out of sight. Our horns are just here to be pretty. We can’t use them to defend ourselves. So staying hidden is how we keep ourselves safe.” Even though the friends are excited to tell everyone that they met a mermicorn, they decide to keep the information secret so they do not endanger their new friend.

Search for the Mermicorn is perfect for readers who are able to read chapter books. The story has easy vocabulary, short sentences, and cute black-and-white illustrations approximately every three pages. Young readers will enjoy the puns such as “fin-tastic,” “shell-ivision,” “fin-teresting,” and “perr-fect.”

Even though Search for the Mermicorn is part of a series, the stories do not have to be read in order. The Purrmaid series takes readers on an underwater swim that teaches fin-tastic lessons as well as entertains. Readers who love animals should also add The Critter Club Series by Callie Barkley to their reading list.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

Wings That Shine

Skydancer is entrusted with the school’s special medal. When she gets distracted, she drops the medal, and is afraid to tell anyone. While she is looking for the medal, she finds a sick dragon. Skydancer returns to the school and finds another dragon. The dragon doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but everyone is afraid of her.

When she stumbles upon a dragon at the edge of the Enchanted Pony Academy grounds, Skydancer is terrified. Skydancer is the only one who can talk to any animal with wings—a very useful Glitter Gift, and one she has always enjoyed. Can she be brave enough to use her Gift and convince the dragon to go away. . . before everything goes up in flames?

The story’s plot focus on both the lost medal and the dragon’s need for help. Despite the danger, Skydancer helps the dragon. Even though there is little suspense, younger readers will enjoy Skydancer’s adventure into the dragon’s home. Even though most of the pegaponies hide from the dragons, Skydancer is determined to help them. Both the dragons and Skydancer learn that their conflict could have been solved if everyone was able to communicate. Skydancer’s experiences highlights the importance of communication and honesty.

Wings That Shine has relatable conflicts. Readers will empathize with Skydancer, who is afraid to tell the headmistress that she has lost the medal. Even though Skydancer is afraid, she still tells the headmistress about the lost medal. However, instead of having any negative consequences, with magic the medal is returned to its proper place.

Wings That Shine will entertain those who have already transitioned to chapter books. Cute black and white illustrations help break up the text and appear every three to five pages. Although the vocabulary isn’t difficult, the text-heavy pages and long sentences may be overwhelming for beginning readers. With rhyming spells, magic Glitter Gifts, and pegaponies, Wings That Shine is sure to capture reader’s attention. Readers who enjoy animals and magic may also want to try The Baby Animal Rescue Fairies Series by Daisy Meadows or the Unicorn Princesses Series by Emily Bliss.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Each pegapony has a different Glitter Gift. The Glitter Gifts include being able to become invisible, being able to talk to winged animals, teleportation, and making flowers bloom. One pegapony can even shoot sparks out of his horn.
  • The pegaponies can cast magic spells. Spells work best if they rhyme. Stone tries to cast a spell to make fireworks come out of his horn. He says, “Turn my sparks into fireworks.” Only a few “pops fizzled from his horn.”
  • Magical Creatures fled when “careless spell casting had weakened the magic in the land.”
  • When the headmistress needs to give the whole school a message, “a shiny orb sailed into the air from his horn, and then it popped, releasing his message in a voice so loud, every pony across the campus could hear it.”
  • Skydancer finds a thirsty dragon. In order to give the dragon water, she cast a spell. Skydancer says, “Fill these buckets to the brink, so we can offer the dragon a drink.” The buckets fill with water and Skydancer takes the buckets to the dragon.
  • In order to help the dragons, the pegaponies use their magic to enchant seeds. Someone says a the spell, “May water from the sky start to fall, so these crops grow for one and all.”
  • In order to fill the dragon’s lake, Skydancer cast a spell. “With fresh, clean water fill this lake, so there’s always plenty for all to take.”
  • The school’s special medal is “enchanted to return to its home if it’s gone from this perch for more than 12 hours.” Later, Skydancer is given a medal that is also enchanted. If the medal is lost, it will find Skydancer.

Spiritual Content

  • None

Across the Dark Water

Twelve-year-old Rahkki is a stable groom for the Riders in the Sandwen army, who must battle deadly spit dragons and hordes of warring giants. The Sandwens believe they have tamed all the wild pegasi in the lush jungles of the Realm and turned them into flying warhorses. But when a herd of wild steeds flies over their village, Rahkki and his clan mates are stunned.

Meanwhile, a small herd of pegasi has journeyed across a treacherous ocean to settle in a new and free land. Led by Echofrost and Hazelwind, the Storm Herd steeds are unaware of the Sandwen clan. But when the unthinkable happens, Echofrost and the rest of Storm Herd will have to come to trust the Sandwens, or both may not survive.

Pegasi, giants, fire-breathing lizards, and landwalkers come together in an exciting story full of suspense. Echofrost desires to be free and she has vowed that no pegasi will be held captive. When her friend Shysong is captured, Echofrost sacrifices her freedom in the hope that she will be able to help Shysong escape. But escaping the Landwalkers is more difficult than Echofrost could have imagined. She fights every Landwalker who comes near her. When a young boy tries to help Echofrost, Echofrost begins to understand that some Landwalkers can be trusted.

Across the Dark Waters uses Echofrost’s voice to highlight the pegasi’s plight and their desire for freedom, while Rahkki’s voice brings the landwalker’s complicated political system to life. The beginning of the story may confuse readers because of the many names and the detailed descriptions that are necessary to build the realm’s world. However, it does not take long until both Echofrost and Shysong are captured and the non-stop action begins. Readers will empathize with Echofrost as she tries to escape captivity, and they will also root for Rahkki as he fights to help the wild pegasi.

Although the publisher recommends Across the Dark Waters for readers as young as eight, younger readers may have a difficult time with the complex story that contains many references to the past in both the pegasi and the landwalker’s lands. The advanced vocabulary and sentence structure may also be difficult for younger readers. In her fight for freedom, Echofrost is treated brutally and, although the descriptions are not gory, there is blood and violence that may upset sensitive readers.

As the first installment of the Riders of the Realm series, Across the Dark Waters will be impossible for readers to put down. With battles, political intrigue, plot twist, and an unlikely friendship, Across the Dark Waters is a beautifully written, complex story that is engaging and exciting. The surprising conclusion will leave readers reaching for the next book in the series, Through the Untamed Sky. Readers who love horse stories will also want to read The Rose Legacy by Jessica Day George.

Sexual Content

  • When looking at the princess, someone asks Rahkki, “You like what you see?” Rahkki is told to “Keep away from the princess, yeah?”
  • When Rahkki’s brother Brauk is injured, Rahkki kisses his hand. His brother says, “If you’re going to practice kissing, could you use your own hand?”

Violence

  • Only women can inherit the throne. Queen Reyella only had sons. “Eight years ago, a bloodborn princess from the Second Clan named Lilliam Whitehall had pounced on Reyella’s weakness. She assassinated the boys’ mother and took her throne, becoming the Fifth’s new monarch.”
  • Rahkki thinks back to when the queen killed his mother. Rahkki “winced at a flash of memory—Queen Lilliam’s cold hand around his throat. He’d been four years old when she’s snuck into Fort Prowl, killed his mother, and then gone after him. . . But then another memory struck him: his mother’s round belly. She’d been pregnant too when Lilliam had assassinated her.”
  • The Storm Herd pegasi leave their land because of a battle between “two immortal pegasus stallions: Star the Healer and Nightwing the Destroyer.” Star and Nightwing use their supernatural power to try to destroy each other. “The earth shook and the land below her hooves fractured, creating fissures in the soil that spread like cracked ice.”
  • Later Echofrost thinks about “Nightwing’s treacheries: burning Morningleaf’s feathers with his silver starfire, turning hundreds of pegasi to ashes, stealing newborns from their dams, and murdering the five over-stallions of Anok.”
  • While flying over a human establishment, the Landwalkers try to shoot down the pegasi. “One adult retreated into his den and then returned carrying a bowed contraption. Soon he was shooting barbed sticks at the pegasi. One struck Shysong in the wing. . .and blood dripped from the wound.”
  • The Landwalkers capture Shysong. “Several lashings were looped around Shysong’s neck and legs. The mare bucked and kicked, but the Landwalkers steered their mounts out of her reach, keeping an equidistant circle around her body.” Echofrost tries to help her friend. “She rammed the closest enemy pegasus. . . The golden steed faltered, and her rider lost her balance, almost falling off.” The mare “kicked Echofrost in the flank and sent her spiraling toward land.” The scene is described over three pages.
  • After Shysong is captured, Echofrost allows the Landwalkers to catch her. The Landwalkers throw ropes at the Storm Herd. “One fell around Echofrost’s neck and then tightened around her throat. She reared back, and it clamped tighter, like the constricting grip of a snake. She opened her mouth to scream, but the noise came out a strangled gasp.” When the Landwalkers catch Echofrost, they cut her wings so she cannot escape.
  • Echofrost thinks back to the past. Another herd had captured her and “she’d been tortured and kicked. Yearlings had made a sport of yanking out her mane and tail hairs by the roots. She’d eventually been released.”
  • The Landwalkers take Echofrost captive. The Landwalkers “tossed ropes that tangled around her neck and hooves. They each held tight, and she couldn’t stop herself from struggling. The Landwalkers shouted to one another in excited voices and then gave a mighty tug, yanking her off her hooves. She hit the ground. . .They bound her wings and legs.”
  • While walking, someone threw a coconut at Rahkki. He was hit “in the back of the head and he flew forward, striking the ground so hard it knocked the breath out of him.”
  • In order to keep Echofrost captive, the Landwalkers need to cut her wings. Brauk “produced a stick similar to Harak’s and followed her, brandishing it at her throat. She lunged, jaws wide, and Harak leaped to help Brauk. They struck her chest, driving her deeper into the corner until her flanks brushed up against wood.” In order to put a halter on Echofrost, Brauk “clubbed her over the head so hard that her vision flickered. . . With a sharp tug, they yanked her off her hooves and she slammed onto the hard floor. Her chest [was] heaving as she absorbed the pain.” The scene is described over three pages.
  • Angry at Brauk, Echofrost tried to strike him, but Brauk “slammed his club down on her forehead, making her stagger into the barn wall. Her vision blackened, and she gasped for breath.”
  • While trying to tame Echofrost, Brauk “wacked her left shoulder, stinging the muscles there. . . . Echofrost dripped her head and limped along behind him, her shoulders stinging where he’d hit her.”
  • When Echofrost’s friends try to free her, the Landwalkers shoot arrows at the wild pagasi. One pegasus is slightly injured.
  • A giant grabs Echofrost. The giant “tightened his grip around her neck. Her vision darkened and her body went limp. . . The Gorlander held Sula [Echofrost] by her throat with both hands, trying to suffocate her so he could drag her away. Her tongue lolled form her mouth, and her eyes popped wide.” Rahkki grabs a dagger and “drove it toward the giant’s brain.” The giant “snatched Rahkki’s arm, and tossed him into the creek before the blade could find its mark.”
  • Echofrost tries to free herself from the giant’s grasp by twisting and kicking. “Her hooves sliced through the Gorlander’s goat-hide vest, raking red streaks across his moon-pale skin.” Brauk tries to help his brother and Echofrost. “Brauk parried in and out, slicking at the giant in sections from head to foot until the beast was streaked in blood.” When Echofrost gets free, she uses “her flightless wings to propel and balance herself, she reared and clubbed the giant with her front hooves. Meanwhile Brauk hacked at the Gorlander like he was chopping down a tree.” The scene is described over seven pages.
  • The giants attack the Landwalkers. “The giants lifted heavy shields and mowed down the front line of Sandwen soldiers, crushing them with their spears. The horde roared in unison and advanced over the bones of the dead. . . One [elephant] had a Sandwen warrior hanging off his tusk. The elephant tossed him off, and a giant speared the man straight through.” Rahkki takes the wild pegasi to his uncle’s farm.
  • While at the farm, a giant attempts to grab Rahkki. “The giant followed him, but as Rahkki predicted, he was too large to change course. His eyes widened, and then he slammed into the trunk. The tree cracked and splintered.” Rahkki’s uncle helps fight the giants. Rahkki stabs one “through her naked foot. She threw back her head and howled.” The giant grabs Rahkki and “shook him so hard his teeth rattled. . . The female giant tugged Rahkki’s arms hard enough to make him scream.” The giant ties Rahkki up and throws him into her sack.
  • Echofrost tries to help free Rahkki. A giant swings a weapon and “knocked her into the side of the barn. . . He swung at her again and knocked her into the side of the barn. With her head ringing, the giant stomped toward her—his bludgeon lifted.” The Storm Herd appear and help defeat the giant. The fight takes place over eight pages.
  • After Rahkki tries to free the wild pegasi, two guards beat him. “A guard lifted his club, his blue eyes flashing, and Rahkki threw his arms up to protect his face and head. He didn’t see the blow, but he felt it. Once. Twice. An earsplitting scream. That was him. . . Then one more blow. And darkness.
  • Someone teases Rahkki. One of his friends “coiled back her fist and punched him square across the jaw, knocking him off the bench.”
  • While Echofrost was being auctioned off, Harak uses his whip to bully Echofrost. Angry, Echofrost strikes out. “Echofrost whirled around and kicked out with both hind legs. She heard a sharp crack when her hooves connected with flesh. A body flew across the sand and struck the fence.” Echofrost accidently injures Brauk instead of Harak. Brauk is seriously injured.
  • After hurting Brauk, Echofrost thinks back to her brother’s death. “The dire wolves had attacked them. Their leader, a white she-wolf, had snatched Bumblewind and thrown him into a tree, cracking his head against it.”
  • During a contest, young men try to ride Echofrost. Every time someone gets on his back, Echofrost bucks them off. No one is injured. The scene is described over six pages.
  • While trying to find their herd, giants try to capture Echofrost and Shysong. Fire lizards, called burners, try to force the pegasi to the ground. “The burners caught up to Echofrost and attacked, shooting flaming tendrils at her and Shysong. There were hundreds of them moving as one creature, like a flock of sparrows. She twisted away when a few of her feathers caught fire. . . Shysong flew in to help. They kicked at the lizards, knocking some out of the sky.” The pegasi are able to escape.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • In order to treat Shysong’s injury, the clan’s animal doctor gave her a dose of “strong medicine.”
  • The queen’s table is laden with food and also has rice wine on it.
  • While at a pegasi auction, Rahkki notices that one of the pegasi has been drugged.

Language

  • The characters occasionally use “bloody rain” as an exclamation. For example, when Rahkki asked a guard to leave, the guard askes him, “Bloody rain, what yuh doin’ ‘ere so early?”
  • When someone shoots a pegasus, the queen calls them responsible idiots.
  • “By Granak” is used as an exclamation several times. For example, after the fight with the giant, Rahkki’s brother says, “By Granak, Brother. If you cry, I’ll break your nose.”

Supernatural

  • Queen Lilliam believes in omens. Before she will send her warriors out to battle the giants, the queen would consult with “their guardian mascot—Granak, the Father of Dragons. The queen would offer the gigantic lizard a fattened sow. If he ate it, they’d fight. If he didn’t, Lilliam would consider that a terrible omen. She’d keep the warriors home.”
  • Queen Lilliam won’t attack the giants because “her Borla had a bad dream, a vision. He said he saw the giant hordes on the move with over a hundred captured Kihlari steeds. . .So even though Granak ate the sow, the bad dream foretells defeat. She won’t attack until there’s a better omen.”
  • Nightwing “had woken from a four-hundred-year hibernation. . . He’d come to kill his rival, a young black stallion named Star.”
  • When Echofrost hurts a rider, a rumor begins. People think Echofrost killed the rider. “A Kihlara steed that killed a Rider was a bad omen—bad luck.”

Spiritual Content

  • After a pegasus dies, they go to “the golden meadow.”
  • In the morning the tame pegasi “greet the sun. . . All the pegasi faced east” and nickered toward the sun.
  • When Echofrost is upset, she thinks, “Ancestors, help me.” Later when Echofrost is trying to kick her way out of the stall, she says, “By the Ancestors. That door is as hard as stone.”
  • Echofrost and Shysong are being put up for sale. To encourage Shysong, Echofrost says, “the Ancestors are with us.”
  • The Landwalkers believe that “Sunchaser was the moon spirit, and he was always brooding because he lived in the dark.”
  • When the Landwalkers see the wild pegasi, someone says, “Maybe they’re a gift from the wind spirits, or maybe they rose out of the foam in the sea, or maybe they’re fallen stars.”
  • Echofrost takes flight with Rahkki on her back. Intending to escape, Echofrost flies quickly away from the settlement. Rahkki “threw up a silent prayer to the Seven Sisters.”

Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure: Unicorn Bowling

A unicorn in bowling shoes is quite a STRIKE-ing sight. But for nine-year-old Phoebe Howell, it’s just another fun outing with her best friend, the illustrious unicorn Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. This unique and magical friendship is at the heart of the ninth Phoebe and Her Unicorn collection, which includes adventures such as writing original songs, publishing rival news websites, and making a summer visit to the exclusive Camp Shimmerhorn. Life with a unicorn BFF is not without its challenges, however, and whether it’s homework, friction with classmates, or talent show jitters, Unicorn Bowling is full of amusing, heartwarming reminders that when the going gets tough, the tough get sparkling.

Unlike the previous installment of Phoebe and Her Unicorn, Unicorn Bowling is a collection of comics, not a continuous story. Some of the comic strips are only 4 panels, while others span multiple pages. The panels use simple artwork with bright colors. The character’s facial expressions will help younger readers understand the character’s emotions. Each page has six or fewer sentences and some panels contain no words at all, which makes the story accessible to reluctant readers. Some of the vocabulary is difficult such as culottes, conspicuous, cataclysmic, and libel. To aid readers, a word glossary appears at the back of the book.

Although Unicorn Bowling is a collection of comic strips, the situations lend themselves to discussions. Phoebe and her Unicorn deal with the dangers of posting online as well as the need to take other peoples’ feelings into consideration. The book also includes a comic about gender stereotypes. Younger readers will enjoy Phoebe and her Unicorn as they learn important life lessons. The humorous look at Phoebe’s everyday life as well as Phoebe’s friendship with Marigold will capture readers’ attention.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Marigold ask Phoebe, “Remember the day we sang ’99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall?”

Language

  • A girl calls Phoebe a “nerd girl.”
  • When Phoebe is upset, she writes a song called, “Unicorns are stupidfaces”
  • Dang is used once.

Supernatural

  • Marigold says she can cast spells, but she never actually casts a spell. When Phoebe doesn’t want to practice, Marigold says, “I could cast a motivation spell on you.” Phoebe declines because “those make my hands shake.” Marigold says, “They do contain a LOT of caffeine.”
  • Phoebe asks Marigold to cast a non-caring spell on her. Marigold refuses because, “Every time I do that you start chewing with your mouth open.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

Phoebe and Her Unicorn in Unicorn Theater

Summer is here, and Phoebe and Marigold are heading to drama camp. Phoebe’s expecting some quality time with her best friend, but in a surprise twist, Marigold has invited her sister, Florence Unfortunate Nostrils! While the unicorn sisters head to camp in a magical rainbow pod, Phoebe is stuck riding with her parents in their boring car, wondering where it all went wrong. But at Camp Thespis, there are more daunting tasks at hand: writing, producing, and acting in an entirely original play! The second Phoebe and Her Unicorn graphic novel is a sparkling tale of sisterhood and summer fun, as well as a reminder that sometimes it takes a bit of drama to recognize true friendship.

Much of the humor revolves around Marigold, who is completely self-centered and obsessed with her own beauty. However, it is clear that Marigold cares about Phoebe. Based on the two friends’ relationships, readers will learn important lessons about friendship. In the end, Phoebe and some of her drama camp friends put on a play that highlights the importance of not being self-involved and not letting a fight go unresolved.

The easy-to-follow panels have simple artwork with bright colors. The character’s facial expressions will help younger readers understand the character’s emotions. Each page has six or fewer sentences and some panels contain no words at all, which makes the story accessible to reluctant readers. Both the vocabulary and the plot structure are easy to understand.

Unlike some of the previous books in the series, Phoebe and Her Unicorn in Unicorn Theater tells one story throughout the book. Even though the story is the second graphic novel, for maximum enjoyment readers should read the previous books because the story refers to characters and events that happened in previous books. Phoebe and Her Unicorn in Unicorn Theater shows how the characters have matured and changed over the course of the strip.

Anyone who has ever had a fight with a friend or who has felt socially awkward will relate to Phoebe. Phoebe and Her Unicorn in Unicorn Theater will be a hit with readers who want a humorous, fun story about friendships and unicorns.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

The Unicorn Quest

Claire’s great-aunt Diana mysteriously disappeared. As her only family, Claire, Sophie, and her parents plan to spend the summer cleaning out Diana’s house, which is cluttered with her aunt’s collection of strange artifacts. When Claire and Sophie discover a ladder in the fireplace, Sophie leads the way up. . . and up. . . and up. They discover a fantastical land called Arden, filled with castles, magic, and dangerous creatures. Claire makes Sophie promise never to climb the stairs again.

When Sophie disappears, Claire knows she must be brave enough to search for her sister by going up the ladder. When Claire gets to Arden, she discovers a world full of danger. Four guilds of magic no longer trust each other. All of the unicorns have disappeared. Horrible wraiths roam at night. And Sophie is missing. Claire must find the courage to search for her sister, but first she must discover the secret of the unicorns.

Claire is fearful that her sister is in danger, which propels her to team up with two others—Netta and Sena—in order to find Sophie and a stolen unicorn relict. Because Arden’s war happened in the past, the action included in the book is not scary. Instead, readers will be enthralled with Arden’s strange creatures and magic.

The land of Arden is well developed, and the author uses beautiful descriptions to bring the setting to life. Even though the story contains some exciting scenes, the long descriptions slow down the pacing of the plot. The story follows a typical epic format—a girl is forced to go on a quest, teams up with others, and travels from place to place searching for answers. Readers expecting a story about sisters and unicorns will be disappointed, because there is little interaction between Claire and her sister, and the unicorn only appears for a brief flash at the end.

The Unicorn Quest will entertain strong readers who like reading about magical lands and characters going on a quest. Although the story is not unique, Claire is a believable character that overcomes her fear as she searches for her sister. The sweet ending has several surprises and will leave the reader wanting to pick up the next book in the series—Secret in the Stone. The Unicorn Quest will appeal to those who like stories such as The Last, by Katherine Applegate, and Podkin One-Ear, by Kieran Larwood.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • A wraith tries to attack Claire, but before it does Sophie, “had thrown herself onto the thing’s back and was desperately pounding at its shoulder blades, her fist sinking into the shifting, smoky blackness that hung around it. . . Claire scooted away from the creature, but then there was another shriek—from Sophie this time—and Claire watched in horror as the beast’s clawed hand reached behind and finally peeled Sophie off its back, throwing her to the ground.” With help, the girls are able to escape.
  • When Claire climbs up the ladder to get to Arden, she is attacked. “The air whooshed out of Claire as something—someone—tackled her from behind. She felt a knee land firmly on her lower back, pinning her to the ground. Pain ripped through her shoulders as her arms were yanked behind her. . .Claire coughed, spitting out the dirt that coated her mouth from the fall. Something cold and hard suddenly pressed at her throat: the edge of a knife.” Claire is then taken into the city, where she is put in jail.
  • While stuck in a cave a wyvern appears. Claire uses magic to put the wyvern in a cage. “The wyvern strained, its shoulders pounding against the rock-cage. To Claire’s dismay, the wyvern’s scales seemed to be chipping away at the bars, widening the space little by little.” Claire calms the wyvern, and the group gets out of the cave safely.
  • A man tries to club Claire, so she holds her sword as if it is a baseball bat and, “swung at the club, trying to keep it away from her. Sword and club met with a clang that reverberated through her.” Someone stops the man from hurting Claire.
  • When Sophie is shot with an arrow, “a scream burst out of Claire as her sister’s blood poured over her knees. . . Sophie’s pitiful whisper made Claire grab on to her tighter. . .” A man picks up Sophie and lays her, “at the foot of Queen Rock,” in order to perform a ceremony.
  • A wraith grabs Claire. “As its skeletal hand, smelling of rotten flesh, tightened around her neck, Claire knew, in that horrible way one always knows, that she had made an irrevocable mistake. She gasped for breath as the wraith dragged her slowly back. . . Dark thoughts wrapped around Claire’s mind as she felt herself drowning in the wraith’s cold.” Claire uses magic to save herself.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Claire is given Sinceri Tea, which is, “distilled from forget-me-not petals for recollection, sunflower seeds for openness, and a blade of hedgehog grass from the beaches of the Sunrise Isles. It will ensure you cannot lie when you answer.”

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Claire and Sophie find a ladder in a fireplace. When they climb the ladder, they end up in Arden—a world where magic is real.
  • In Arden, there are four guilds of magic. Forgers work with metal, Gemmers work with rocks and gems, Spinners weave magic from thread, and Tillers work with all that grows from the earth. “Our magic, guild magic, only extends to what’s around us. . . The magic doesn’t come from within us, but from the things around us—plants, rocks, thread, metal. All we do is encourage the magic that naturally exists in those things, to make plants grow bigger and faster and stronger, for instance.”
  • Wraiths are dangerous creatures that kill humans. Claire describes a wraith as “big and dark and cold. It kind of looked like a skeleton wrapped in shadows.”
  • Nett uses Mile High Potion to turn a blade of grass into rope. Nett, “let a drop of something green tumble onto a blade of grass. With his thumb and forefinger, he pinched the blade and gave it a twist . . . The blade of grass was growing longer and larger, going from the length of some floss to shoelace size in a matter of seconds.”
  • While in a shop, Nett finds a revealer, which, “reflects a person’s greatest flaw. . . It’s a horrible thing to have the nastiest, most secret thoughts within you revealed to all.” He also finds an herb that will, “take away the eater’s ability to make decisions for an hour, or four years, depending on the amount consumed.”
  • Claire discovers that she is a Gemmer and can talk to wyverns.
  • A woman uses a magic threat to choke a man. “Francis dropped to his knees as though someone had set a bag of bricks on his shoulders. His arm flailed as he tried to push his Royalist cloak off, but as hard as he tried, he could not lift the garment from his shoulders. There were a few snaps as his ribs cracked.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

Flash’s Dash

Cressida, a unicorn-obsessed girl, is invited into the Rainbow Realm, where unicorns live. When Cressida arrives, Princess Flash is preparing for the annual Thunder Dash. For the first time ever, non-unicorns will be allowed to race. Cressida is excited to be the first human girl invited to run in the race.

Then Ernest, the wizard-lizard, has a mishap while casting a spell. Now the racetrack is covered in sticky, pink goo. Will Cressida and the unicorn princess find a way to save the race?

Flash’s Dash begins slowly because the story begins with Princess Sunbeam and Princess Flash arguing over who Cressida is friends with. Although the reader learns that a person can be friends with more than one person (or unicorn), the chapter is not very interesting.

Once Cressida jumps into preparing for Flash’s Dash, Cressida meets some new characters, including talking boulders. The story will appeal to younger readers because of the interesting characters, silly encounters, and fun conflict. However, readers will also learn the importance of practicing in order to get better.

As Cressida prepares for the race, she learns that Sunbeam doesn’t want to participate because she always loses. To make matters worse, she feels self-conscious because she overheard the boulders talking about her. How can she join the race after hearing the boulders say that she looked funny when she ran? In the end, Princes Sundance learns that the boulders actually said, “that she looked downright sunny. You know, like a streak of yellow light.” Through Princess Sundance’s conflict, the reader will learn how teasing hurts, as well as the importance of talking out problems and misunderstandings.

Flash’s Dash is the second book in this series written for children who enjoy chapter books. Beginning readers may struggle with the amount of text on a page as well as the long descriptive passages. The pictures scattered throughout the book are adorably cute; however, they only appear about every three to seven pages. This chapter book would be a good story to read aloud to beginning readers.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • A wizard-lizard makes a spell to change avocados into shoes. He chants, “Fasty Foo! Wing Feet, Fleet Feet, Fast Feet, Blue!” He also makes a magical mishap and changes a race course to pink strawberry cake batter.
  • The wizard-lizard made bandannas change into gold running shorts and a gold T-shirt. When he tries to use magic to put the clothes on Cressida, she “felt wind swirling around her body, as though she stood at the center of a miniature tornado. When the wind stopped, the gold shorts were inside out and upside down on her chest. . . “
  • Flash’s magical power is “to run so fast that my horns and hooves create lightning.”
  • Cassandra has a magical key that allows her to go to the Rainbow Realm. When she is in the Rainbow Realm, “time in the human world froze.”
  • Cassandra meets a talking boulder and talking forest animals.

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

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