fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewschildren's fantasy book reviews Jane Yolen Where Have the Unicorns Gone?Where Have the Unicorns Gone? by Jane Yolen and Ruth Sanderson

Most people are struck by the idea of the unicorn: its imagery, its meaning and its origins. Unfortunately in present times the striking and semi-dangerous idea of a horned, goat-legged, lion-tailed creature has been reduced to a sugary-sweet horsey (usually portrayed in various shades of pink or purple).

Jane Yolen and Ruth Sanderson attempt to answer the question of Where Have The Unicorns Gone? The most popular story of where these creatures went to is found within the children’s song, which tells how the unicorns were too proud to enter Noah’s Ark and subsequently died. Legend tells that they went on to become the horned narwhal of the Arctic Seas.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsYolen and Sanderson keep the motif of the sea, but bring in a more contemporary theme of pollution and environmental destruction. For this reason, the unicorns travel to the ocean and merge with the water.

It is a simple, but evocative story set in rhyme and illustrated by the wonderful Sanderson, who beautifully melds the figures of the unicorns with the facets of water: waves, foam, spray, and droplets. Though she does not quite portray the quintessential unicorn, this is a wonderful book: dreamy, poetic, and bittersweet.

Where Have the Unicorns Gone? — (2000) Publisher: Long ago, unicorns lived in a haven of sun-dappled glades and flower-filled dells. But as civilization spread over the ages — with its fierce knights, its chugging trains, its thick smogs — unicorns had to find a new sanctuary. Where? Jane Yolen finds a magical answer in the traditional unicorn myth. Her rhythmic, rhymed text is irresistible to read aloud. And Ruth Sanderson’s brilliant artwork gives unicorns a bold reality in everything from ancient cave paintings to their secret, present-day home. After reading this tribute to the mystical, mysterious unicorn, children will enjoy looking for these elusive creatures in the world around them.


  • Rebecca Fisher

    REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.

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