The Magic of the Unicorn


Louise Ellis-Barrett, Armadillo Editor, has been enjoying a little sprinkling of magic this week. Magic. It is all around us if we know where to look. Some days we feel as though we need a very big sprinkling of magic, other days just a little sparkle will do the trick. Magic though is not just about sparkle and wands; it is about beauty, friendship, acceptance, fun and wonder. It is here that we can bring in the now somewhat ubiquitous unicorn.


Take a moment to look around you and you will quickly see that unicorns are everywhere. They are becoming a part of the culture of adults; you will see them on accessories, clothes, and household goods. Children however are ahead of the curve on this trend. Children have known for years just what all the adults are now discovering. That the unicorn is magical, that it is glorious in all its mythical wonder. It is mystical, fun, colourful - and could even make the perfect pet!


The unicorn is not however just about the horse with the rainbow mane, the horn, some sparkle, glitter, and magic - it has a deeper resonance than that. The unicorn is a fantastical animal, but it is also safe. It is an animal through which authors and illustrators can explore, and can have deeper and more meaningful conversations with children than might otherwise be possible. More than this too, the unicorn can help parents.

Armadillo HQ is the lucky recipient, as many of you may be aware, of goodies galore, usually in the form of books. Every now and then something comes our way that is a little different and yet still links us to children, to books, to storytelling, to creativity, to reading. So it was with the delivery of some Kids Stuff Crazy Purple Unicorn Foaming Soap (thanks to Brand Nation) along with some unicorn themed picture boos – more to come in a moment – that the idea of a unicorn themed blog was born!


How did foaming soap start me off? Well, with purple being my favourite colour, with bath times always being the prelude to bedtime reading, and with unicorns being so prevalent, it is perhaps easy to see the link. Now more than ever we are encouraging children to be conscientious about washing. Making it fun with soap that may turn them into a unicorn, followed by some silly but gentle bedtime unicorn stories is the perfect recipe for success and for happy children (and adults).


Having had fun in the bath, having made your own rainbow horn, having made yourself into a unicorn, now it is time to turn to a unicorn story – maybe you have been enjoying Scholastic Books’ Grumpycorn and now want to learn why, with the help Emma Adams and Mike Byrne, Unicorns Don’t Love Rainbows? I will let you into a secret here; not only does this one not love rainbows, neither does he like cake, ice cream or glitter! He is determined to be true to himself but isn’t sure if his friends will still like him … They will and in the process they will all learn to stand out in their own way.


On which point, how do we know when a unicorn is not a unicorn? Barry Timms and Ged Adamson are quite prepared to help us find out in This is Not A Unicorn (Nosy Crow). This book is not about a unicorn – well maybe it is a teeny-weeny bit, BUT if it is then we are asked to remember that it is about a unicorn with a very special horn, a horn that is about to take you on a very luminous adventure. Sunglasses at the ready for this incredibly bright story!

Now we cannot come to a close without that final element that makes unicorns so very special – glitter. From the dust jacket of this next glorious book that gives Kitty-Corn sparkly paws, ears and of course horn, to the bright illustrations filling the pages this is another of our recent must-read unicorn books. From the partnership of Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham (Abrams Books) comes a story celebrating the power of friendship and again, the message that it is absolutely okay to be yourself, just who you want to be.


The unicorn. The mythical, sparkly, rainbow-horned horse that we all love is ready and waiting to be embraced by us all in all its magical glory – go on, let some magic into your life and enjoy some wonderful bath and bedtimes too.


By Louise Ellis-Barrett

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