Cynthia and the Unicorn
Jean Todd Freeman, pictures by Leonard Weisgard
WW Norton, 1967
Over Spring Break, we went to the coast with a friend and her son and daughter. After a long day at the beach, the two wee friends brought out their prospective videos to watch. An upset began when the girl wanted to watch a Barbie movie and my son and his friend freaked out about watching a chick flick. The fight was only settled after I pointed out that the movie was Swan Lake, and my son quickly switched sides. He grabbed the box from the sister and looked at the cover and upon seeing a unicorn exclaimed, "Ooohhhh, I just love enchanted animals!" That he does, indeed... and though this book is about a little girl and her want of a one-horned steed, all it took was a Gryphon on page six to win him over.
The day before Christmas, Cynthia said,
"This year, Mother, I don't want a sled,
I don't want candy or skates or a doll.
I'd like a little Unicorn, and that is all.
A unicorn, you know, is a little white horse
With the tail of a lion, and a horn, of course."
"What?" laughed Mother. "Don't be absurd:
'Unicorn' is a storybook word.
Have you ever seen, since the day you were born
Anything at all like a Unicorn?""There's a Gryphon in the attic,
A Troll beneath the stairs,
And a Mermaid in my bathtub who eats chocolate eclairs.
I've seen them," said Cynthia, "and I know they're true,
So why can't I dream of a Unicorn too?"
Now, I know this is kinda a holiday book and the rhyme is a bit clunky and the mother slightly condescending... but hey, unicorns are good anytime of the year, in any rhythm and any mood. So, when her patronizing parents won't help her obtain a Unicorn, she seeks the assistance of her enchanted friends. The Gryphon tells her a white nightgown in the woods will trap one. The Troll says she needs a bowl of cream. And the mermaid suggests she snatch one in a dream.As always, Weisgard's drawings shine, and I especially love the blue tones. Perfect for this sort of wistful story. In the end, her wish does come true, even if her silly mom and dad don't believe. And isn't that the point to begin with?
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