Cover image for A plague of unicorns
A plague of unicorns
Yolen, Jane, author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Grand Rapids, Michigan : Zonderkidz, [2014]
Physical Description:
186 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
James, an earl's son and bothersome child, may hold the key to saving Cranford Abbey, a dilapidated school where he is sent to be educated, that newly-appointed Abbot Aelian thinks can be saved if he can make cider from the golden apples now being eaten by ravenous unicorns.
General Note:
"This novel is based on Jane Yolen's short story 'An Infestation of Unicorns, ' by Jane Yolen, from her book Here There Be Unicorns..."--Flyleaf.
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Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

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Young James, an earl's son, is a bit bothersome and always asking the oddest questions. In despair--the last of James' tutors having quit--his mother sends him off to be educated at Cranford Abbey. She feels the strict regimen will do him a world of good. But Cranford Abbey has its own problems. It has been falling into disrepair. The newly appointed Abbot Aelian takes it upon himself to save the abbey with the use of his secret weapon: a recipe for golden apple cider passed down in his family for many generations. He believes that by making and selling the cider, the monks will raise necessary funds to restore the abbey to its former glory. Abbot Aelian has everything he needs--almost. One obstacle stands in his way, unicorns that happen to feast specifically on the golden apples. Abbot Aelian and his men must fight off the unicorns to make the cider. He and the monks try to form a battalion to fight off the beasts; next they import heroes to fight for them. But the heroes run off, monks are injured, and a herd of ravenous unicorns continue munching. After no success, the abbot finally calls upon the most unlikely of heroes, one suggested by no other than young James. That hero is small and unprepossessing but possesses the skill to tame the beasts. Though wildly skeptical, Abbot Aelian must risk everything and believe in this recommended stranger or risk the fall of Cranford Abbey.

Author Notes

Jane Yolen was born February 11, 1939 in New York City. She received a bachelor's degree from Smith College in 1960 and a master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts in 1976. After college, she became an editor in New York City and wrote during her lunch break. She sold her first children's book, Pirates in Petticoats, at the age of 22. Since then, she has written over 300 books for children, young adults, and adults.

Her other works include the Emperor and the Kite, Owl Moon, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and The Devil's Arithmetic. She has won numerous awards including the Kerlan Award, the Regina Medal, the Keene State Children's Literature Award, the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Based on a story published in Yolen's Here There Be Unicorns (1994), this enjoyable chapter book intertwines two initially separate narratives. The first, set in medieval Cranford Abbey, tells of the monks' many unsuccessful attempts to stop unicorns from eating the finest apples in their orchard. The second concerns eight-year-old James, a duke's son, who, after wearing down his family with constant questions, is sent from his castle home to Cranford Abbey to complete his education. There he uses his courage, his mind, and his connections to solve the abbey's dilemma. Both settings, the abbey and the castle, come alive through the description of their physical characteristics and, even more, the personalities, mindsets, and activities of the individuals living there. The one fantasy element is so smoothly assimilated that it seems just another difference between the present and the medieval past. While some young readers may be disappointed that James is not the hero in a traditional sense, those who choose the book by its cover will be well satisfied.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Yolen (Owl Moon) weaves a magical yet believable tale of myth and magic in this charming middle-grade fantasy. In the mythical kingdom of Callanshire, James, son of the Duke of Callander, is sent away at age nine to study at Cranford Abbey. The abbey, struggling to stay financially solvent, plans to make its extraordinary golden Hosannah apples into cider for sale. Unfortunately, unicorns also love these delicious apples. No matter how the monks try, they cannot get rid of the horned orchard raiders until James summons a singer named Sandy, who may have a way with unicorns. James is a hero to be emulated: he is curious, brave, and caring. His family and the monks are all well-drawn, with delightful details (James nicknames his tutor, Benedict Cumber "Cumbersome," for his dry delivery of obscure facts; Alexandria, James's sister, has eyes "like Spanish steel"). Though partially set in an abbey, this tale avoids an overt religious message. It does, however, offer a winsome example of how to live life responsibly. Ages 8-12. Agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. (Dec.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.