Working with Jane Yolen on this illustrated adventure was wonderful fun, an honor, and a memorable career experience for me.
We met through a mutual friend, Rebeccai K. Dotlich, a poet and picture book writer who used to be in my Indianapolis SCBWI writer's group. Rebeccai and Jane were at ALA promoting their collaborated book, Forest For the Trees.
I snuck up behind Rebeccai at her booth, then we hugged and jumped up and down like school girls. Okay, we hugged, but we didn't really jump up and down. Moments later, she asked, "Kim, have you met my friend Jane?"
I turn around and find myself next to Jane Yolen (which for children's writers, she's like major celebrity!) "Why no," I said. "Kim Childress, Zondervan..."
The rest, they say, is history! Jane, it was an honor working with you!
Humor abounds in this middle-grade, historical, tale of heroes, unicorns, dukes, and abbeys. A fun, fast read with black-and-white illustrations throughout.
"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.) -Publishers Weekly
A Plague of Unicorns
By Jane Yolen
Genre & BISAC: Juvenile fiction, fantasy, folk tales, unicorns, abbeys, Middle Ages, heroes, golden apples, heroes in disguise, faith-filled fantasy, allegory, legends, folk tales, slush pile stories
Slush Pile: A publishing industry term referring to the "pile" of manuscript submissions an editor has on his or her desk (and inbox) at any given time, typically unsolicited and unagented.