Saturday, December 10, 2022

Not a Unicorn, by Dana Middleton

Jewel has a long pointy unicorn horn on her forehead.  She wasn't born with it.  It just grew out as she got older.  And while most of the kids at school have grown accustomed to it, she still gets teased about it and she tries to keep her head down (literally).  So when her French teacher wants to put her forth for a regional speech competition, Jewel isn't sure that she's up for appearing in front of hundreds of strangers staring at her horn.  But there's one thing that might make her willing to compete.

After years of searching, she may have found a doctor who can remove the horn.  And while her mother is skeptical and worried about Jewel having surgery, Jewel convinces her to let the doctor try.  While the procedure is initially dubbed a success, it turns out to have surprising consequences and Jewel has to make some decisions about what is really important in her life.

A middle grade reader with a mixture of realism and magic that grows steadily more convoluted by the end.  I liked the symbolic nature of the horn and the way it opened discussions about self-image, self-acceptance, and public perception.  I was less taken by the author's attempts to explain its existence.  Also, the book bites off a whole lot of peripheral topics (bullying, broken families) that didn't really add much to its base message.  And then there is the invisible unicorn familiar and a magical graphic novel series that also plays a part (you'll have to read the book yourself to figure that out!).  Never mind the whole French competition! A lovely idea with a strange and very busy story around it.

1 comment:

Test said...

This is a really helpful review. My students like magical realism,but tend to want books that are more about the joy of having magic than the problems of it!