Friday 23 September 2011

My Secret Unicorn by Linda Chapman Reviewed by Emma Barnes

My Secret Unicorn, a series by Linda Chapman, is hugely appealing to many young girls. The first story, The Magic Spell, winningly combines several favourite themes: moving to the country, getting a pony of your own, and discovering you have special powers. In this case, those special powers allow the heroine, Lauren, with the help of a mysterious old lady and a spell book, to turn her new pony, Twilight, back into a unicorn. He can talk, too. And Lauren discovers that she is a “unicorn friend”.

These are children’s books that are not aimed at adults, but at newly independent young readers, mostly six to nine. Having read the ubiquitous “Rainbow Fairies”, they are now looking for something a little meatier – and yet with the same attractive themes of friendship and magic. Most importantly, there is a sympathetic heroine of their own age.

Series fiction for this age-group does not win much serious attention, still less praise, from adults. But it’s not easy to produce a pacy, adventurous, exciting (but not too scary) story that hooks young readers, still less a whole series of them. Linda Chapman is a prolific author for this audience, and she knows exactly what she is doing! The covers look girly, but her heroines are bold and resourceful. Her books are addictive – and at a time when young readers need to be sucked into the reading habit, if they are to become fluent, enthusiastic book-lovers.

Published by Puffin 2002

  • ISBN-10: 0141313412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141313412



Penny Dolan said...

Children are just the same as adults. They want more of what they like, so it's good to have these friendly and interesting series about, even if many are gender biaised. Imagine if every book you had to read was "harder" than the one before! "Put down that Kate Atkinson. You should be reading Ulysses."

These kinds of books are especially valuable for developing "reading stamina", as well as helping children engage with the book characters, there on the page as part of the pleasure of story.

Emma Barnes said...

The gender-bias point is interesting. But is it more to do with how publishers choose to market the books than with what is actually inside the covers? Certainly the girl characters themselves are active and adventurous, rather than glitzy or frilly.

And in turn the publishers are probably responding to what works for their audience.

Covers aside - these stories win many devoted fans!

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