What makes a great children’s story? Is it action, adventure or relatability? Children have amazing minds and question everything. Children also lack that filter that we have as adults — they often say what’s on their mind without thinking about the consequences.
I have two children who do this all day long every day and when reading the children’s novel A Plague of Unicorns with them, I was reminded at how precious that annoying characteristic of our youth is. Jane Yolen seems to understand the nature of children. Her story captures the imagination while reminding us that children are capable of being heroes and saving the day. Children are like the book’s protagonist, young James, and can think outside of the box to solve a problem that no one else has been able to solve.
Let me start at the beginning… James is the son of an earl and is expected to act a certain way. However, he’s a normal boy full of energy and questions. He gets out of hand and his parents don’t know how to deal with him so they send him off to an Abbey for the monks to be educated. The monks have their own problems though: the school is falling apart and needs some major help, and there are some pesty unicorns that are eating their supply of apples for cider. The adults try everything to get rid of the unicorns but nothing works. How can these pests be deterred?
Only the mind of a young boy who thinks in ways adults are no longer able to can solve this problem.
I love stories that remind children that they are capable of being heroes. I also love stories that enchant both girls and boys. My son has a hard time finding fantasy books that he enjoys because he feels that most are for girls. A Plague of Unicorns speaks his language and is a great book for children ages 8-12. James is the type of boy who is always getting into trouble prompted by his curiosity of the world. I’m reminded of 1 Timothy 4:12 where Paul reminds Timothy that even though he is young he can do much. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
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Children are gifted with uninhibited imaginations and wild curiosity. How are you encouraging your children to share their ideas and solve problems with their creative minds? Join the conversation on our blog. We’d love to hear from you!