The Great Unicorn Race

Jolly Fish. (Unicorns of the Secret Stable). Jan. 2021. 72p. Tr $25.32. ISBN 9781631635120; pap. $4.99. ISBN 9781631635137.
K-Gr 3–Ruby and Iris compete to prove who has the fastest unicorn. The two sisters are keepers of the Enchanted Kingdom, a magical land of fire mountains and diamond deserts where unicorns are protected. Dragon rider Cole challenges them to a unicorn race: Whoever returns with the Lotus Gem, hidden in an oasis in the desert, has the best unicorn. Ruby chooses Tempest, who is fast, strong, and impulsive. Iris decides on Lyric for her intelligence and quick thinking. Before they set out, Cole warns of perilous quicksand and labyrinthine caves, but Ruby impetuously races off toward the gem, inadvertently triggering a dangerous sandstorm. Can the girls work together to make their way back to safety? Sanderson reestablishes the series premise in a catch-up at the beginning of the book. Maps of the town and surrounding countryside add to the effective world-building. The winner of the race is debated by the sisters: Tempest outruns Lyric, but Lyric uses her wits to rescue the foursome. Discussion prompts at the back of the book guide young readers to reflect on their own strengths and skills. Plentiful illustrations show powerful unicorns in exciting action shots: A front-facing image of Tempest galloping at full speed is particularly effective. Short, simple sentences with limited vocabulary and large typeface give the early elementary crowd a chance to practice reading fluency.
VERDICT A winning, fast-paced adventure story for fans of the series.

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