Margaret’s Unicorn by Briony May Smith

Cover image for Margaret’s Unicorn

Margaret’s Unicorn by Briony May Smith (9781984896537)

Margaret and her parents moved to a faraway place to be closer to her grandmother. When they got there, the rooms were bare and strange. Her parents sent Margaret out to explore, warning her not to go past the big stone. When Margaret reached the stone at the end of the garden, she could see the sea. And up in the clouds were unicorns that disappeared in a blink. As Margaret headed home, she heard a noise and discovered a baby unicorn tangled in the weeds. Her grandmother was shocked to see the unicorn, because she thought they had all disappeared. They had to get flowers for the unicorn to eat from the local shop and soon made him a cozy nest in Margaret’s room. That night, they gathered water touched by the moon, which made the unicorn’s horn glow. Margaret cared for the unicorn all the way until spring returned. Then Margaret returned the unicorn to its herd and its mother. Will Margaret ever see her unicorn again?

Smith has created a magical picture book about unicorns that isn’t sparkly and full of glitter. It’s a beautiful homey sort of magic, fed with flowers and moon-touched water. It’s also a book about caring for something but also being willing to return it and let it leave you. Because she knows she will lose the unicorn in spring, the entire book is filled with a wistfulness that plays well with the wonder of having your own unicorn.

The illustrations add so much to the appeal of the book. Filled with landscapes of moors and hills that butt up against the sea, the land is wild and wondrous too. There is a distinct coziness to the images, of a family that works together to create their new home and one for the baby unicorn too.

A lovely look at unicorns, families and love. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Schwartz & Wade.

The Poisoned Apple by Anne Lambelet

Cover image for The Poisoned Apple

The Poisoned Apple by Anne Lambelet (9781645670605)

This picture book retells the story of Snow White and the poisoned apple. This version focuses very cleverly on the witch herself. It tells of the hard work she put into creating just one poisoned apple and no more. The witch gets the apple directly into Snow White’s basket, but then her plans go awry as the apple is passed to the dwarves as part of their lunch. Luckily, none of them take a bite, instead sharing the apple with some hungry forest animals, who in turn share it with a squirrel looking for food for her babies. As the squirrel climbs high into the tree, the witch follows, desperate to get the apple back and give it to Snow White. But her plans continue to fail her as the branch snaps from beneath her weight.

Lambelet has very nicely twisted and fractured this retelling of the classic Snow White story. The book will work best for children who know the classic version, as this one quickly moves away from that tale and into a riff of its own. Snow White and the dwarves make appearances, but are not the main focus of the story. The witch herself stays at the center, conniving and evil, making this just right for a witchy Halloween read.

The art is marvelous, full of fine lined details that come together to form dramatic moments that fill the page. From the creation of the poisoned apple itself to the witch’s fall from the tree, these moments are elongated by the art and the format to great effect.

This witch-focused retelling of Snow White is creepy, dark and satisfying. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from copy provided by Page Street Kids.