A Horse of Another Color: A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young
UNICORN: 25 Cents
What a deal! She sends off her order with her quarter posthaste!
SHE COULD HARDLY WAIT!
"I'LL NAME HIM SPARKLE!
HE'LL BE BLUE, WITH A PINK TAIL AND PINK MANE!"
Lucy is lost in rapture as she dreams of bedecking her unicorn with flowers, feeding him upon pastel-frosted cupcakes, riding upon his white back under canopies of rainbows. It's a girl's dream.
But when the truck arrives and opens up the back doors, what emerges is not what Lucy was looking for.
Her unicorn is short and squat. His ears are way too big and his horn is not exactly magnificent. He has spots and ... well, fleas. He doesn't smell at all nice. And his voice is anything but mellifluous.
Okay. This unicorn might need a bit of a makeover.
Lucy drapes a garland of flowers s around Sparkle's short scrawny neck.
HE ATE IT.
She dressed him in a pink tutu.
HE ATE THAT, TOO!
This is not a good unicorn! Lucy stomps off, but Sparkle follows right behind, nibbling her skirt.
This will not do! Lucy phones the Unicorn Man.
"TAKE HIM BACK!" SHE ORDERED.
The unicorn man promises to re-possess Sparkle tomorrow. Lucy is not happy being stuck with a defective unicorn who follows her everywhere and, (ugghhh!) licks her. She can't wait for the truck to arrive.
But that night there is a dreadful thunderstorm and Sparkle is terrified.
Lucy hurries to help, bringing along her Bear-Bear to comfort him. When that doesn't do the trick, she tries warming some milk and reading him her favorite bedtime books. Finally, Sparkle closes his big eyes and Lucy falls asleep against his soft fur. (Presumably Lucy had managed a flea bath during page turns!)
And when the unicorn man's truck pulls up the next morning to haul Sparkle away, he bleats piteously and...
Well, young readers will guess what happens next, in Amy Young's latest charmer, A Unicorn Named Sparkle (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016).
As Mick Jagger sang sardonically in the sixties,
"You can't always get what you want.
You can't always get what you want.
But if you try, sometime... you get what you need!"
The perfect pet is the one who loves you, as Lucy learns that even a goat with one weird horn can be just plain loving and lovable, too. Young's pen and watercolor illustrations are comic and charming, with just the right touch of glittery fairy dust about Lucy's unicorn dreams and the right touch of reality as the stubborn girl meets the ornery goat and both emerge as winners.