The Eyes of the Unicorn

The Eyes of the Unicorn

by Teresa Bateman, Greg Spalenka
     
 

The hunt for the unicorn is underway, for the Duke and his men are greedy for its magical horn. As the nobles ride off on their fine steeds, Tanisa, the exhausted serving girl, finally has a chance to rest. She awakens to two astonishing sights: a pure white unicorn resting his head in her lap and the Duke's son, whose arrow is poised to slay the beast. But the… See more details below

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Overview

The hunt for the unicorn is underway, for the Duke and his men are greedy for its magical horn. As the nobles ride off on their fine steeds, Tanisa, the exhausted serving girl, finally has a chance to rest. She awakens to two astonishing sights: a pure white unicorn resting his head in her lap and the Duke's son, whose arrow is poised to slay the beast. But the unicorn's eyes possess great powers. If the Duke's son dares to gaze into them, nearly anything could happen.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In contrast to Bateman's light-hearted Keeper of Soles, this fairy tale comes across as solemn and high-minded. In it, a servant girl helps a unicorn evade slaughter by her former playmate, the duke's son. Newcomer Spalenka's gaudy, digitally manipulated illustrations, however, compete for readers' attention, with distracting combinations of superimposed medieval ornaments, photographs of some characters (specifically of Tanisa, the servant girl), painted still lifes and other elements. The text explains that Tanisa and the duke's son, Chris, have grown apart, and that Chris's once-pure heart has been twisted by his power-hungry father. The scenes jump from one to the next, in a few places resembling stills in a book adaptation of a movie. The climax feels medicinal: the unicorn, eluding the whole court, finds refuge in Tanisa's lap, but Chris aims his arrow at it. The unicorn first heals the wound Chris accidentally inflicts on Tanisa, then tenderly places his horn on Chris's heart. "When Chris opened his eyes again they were filled with the joy [Tanisa] remembered from when they were children." The story's message is lost in the unicorn magic, faux courtly prose ("on the morrow she would rest") and superficial images. Ages 6-10. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
We are back in the magical days of castles and unicorns. The cruel duke and his followers vow to capture the unicorn in the area. Tanisa the serving maid is dismayed that Chris, the duke�s son and her former playmate, sounds as cruel as the rest. Sent along to help feed the hunting party, the exhausted Tanisa is astonished to wake up with the unicorn in her lap but distressed when Chris arrives ready to shoot it. Although wounded, Tanisa makes Chris realize how he has changed. The unicorn brings Chris back to his former self. He sends Tanisa and the unicorn off to safety, vowing that when he is ruler he will make the land safe for them again. Unicorns suggest medieval Europe and lush visualization. Spalenka generates the details of place and personalities starting with pencil sketches digitally scanned. He then adds photographs to manipulate in the computer. His large single and double pages are rich with royal banquets and misty forest glens filled with charging hunters on sleek black steeds. The noble unicorn gleams white amid the foliage. A sense of romantic magic is generated, along with a projection of a better future as �Tanisa and the unicorn melted into the dappled shade,� hearing a minstrel�s hopeful song. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

Gr 3-5
"Few men will dare to look into a unicorn's eyes." Sung by a visiting minstrel, these words only fire the hunting enthusiasm of the Duke's nobles in this opulent romance. In keeping with old stories of the fabled beast, the unicorn befriends Tanisa, a kind serving girl, and lays his head in her lap as she dozes in a meadow. She's then wounded in trying to shield him from the flying arrow shot by the Duke's son, her former childhood playmate. Now nearly grown, Chris is bent on killing the creature both for the wealth its carcass will bring and to gain his father's approval. Stunned that he has wounded Tanisa, he looks into the unicorn's eyes. Of course, his hardened heart is softened and her wound is healed by the unicorn's touch. Promising to rule with wisdom when he comes into adulthood, Chris sends the girl and the unicorn off into hiding to await a safer time. Lavish scenes rendered in Photoshop blend photographs of the humans and their horses and dogs with painted landscapes and unicorns. Darkened views shot with golden lighting, lengthened images, and occasional blurred focus lend a dramatic, surreal tone to the rather hackneyed scenario. The vigorous, cinematic views and the hint of future love fit a traditional fairy-tale niche.
—Margaret BushCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
A pretty story tenderly told and fabulously illustrated. A minstrel sings of a unicorn in a great hall, while nobles vie with one another as to which one will capture the creature. Tanisa the serving girl sees that Chris, the duke's son, is as bloodthirsty as the rest. She attends the hunt the next day to serve at luncheon and wakes to find the white unicorn with its head in her lap. Chris stumbles upon them and draws his bow, but his arrow wounds Tanisa. The unicorn heals her and then him, changing his heart so that he promises to make the land safe for the unicorn. Tanisa and the unicorn flee until folk "have earned the right to have unicorns among us." While the clarity of the story line occasionally falters, the pictures are simply magical. Using drawings overlaid with paint and photographs, Spalenka's images often look like Renaissance portraits or still lifes, then like pellucid landscapes or dreamscapes. Each full-page, full-bleed illustration, with text floated over it, contains a fully realized and imagined space: The unicorn is a full-blooded creature with bones and sinew. Satisfyingly gorgeous. (Picture book. 7-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780823417285
Publisher:
Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
06/28/2007
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 12.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
810L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

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