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A Plague of Unicorns

Format: Hardcover

Availability: In stock

Quick Overview:

A boy sent away from home, a run-down abbey, a crop of golden apples, and one large herd of ravenous unicorns. It’s a recipe for disaster—a disaster with its humorous side, its dangerous side, and its small miracle. Bestselling author Jane Yolen, includes medieval history, faith, family, misfortune, and a reminder that heroes come in all sizes.

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.

Contributor(s) Jane Yolen
About the Contributor(s) Jane Yolen

Jane has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the twentieth century. She sets the highest standard for the industry, not only in the meaningful body of work she has created, but also in her support of fellow authors and artists. Her books range from the bestselling How Do Dinosaurs series to the Caldecott winning Owl Moon to popular novels such as The Devil’s Arithmetic, Snow in Summer, and The Young Merlin Trilogy, to award-winning books of poetry such as Grumbles from the Forest, and A Mirror to Nature. In all, she has written over 335 books (she’s lost count), won numerous awards (one even set her good coat on fire), and has been given six honorary doctorates in literature. For more information, please visit

UPC 025986746483
ISBN-10 0310746485
ISBN-13 9780310746485
Release Date Dec 23, 2014
Weight (lbs) 0.6200
Height 8.75
Width 5.75
Length 192
Length Unit Pages
Publisher Zonderkidz
Price $15.99
Format Hardcover
Language English

Customer Reviews

Review by Sally
Overall Rating
“A Plague of Unicorns” is a fairy tale based in medieval times. The length of the book and its chapters is not long, which is good, because in my opinion the young reader would become discouraged. The reason for that statement is…there is no glossary for the unusual words, such as: scriptorium, oblate, novitiates, flagon, dukedom, clootie and chimera, just to name a few. I gave the book to my granddaughter and after several times of her asking me the definitions and me telling her to look them up, I could see she was becoming discouraged, so I went through the book and listed all the unusual words with their definitions and that helped immensely.

The first two-thirds of the book is more about the history with the real adventure starting somewhere around the last third.

Other than that what is not to love about medieval times, castles, princes, princesses, dragons, unicorns, knights, fair maidens and adventure? I think this is cute fairytale and if you take time to list the definitions of unusual words your child will love it.


This book is about a young boy named James who asks way too many questions. His uncle sends him to the Cranford Abbey, hoping they can teach him to be quiet since they don’t talk much there. They do a lot of studying at the Abbey. They learn really hard things like Latin, Hebrew and Greek and they learn to do fancy writing. I also learned that Unicorns can be mean. They really needed the apples to make cider to sell so they could save the Abbey and the Unicorns kept eating them. Sandy, a friend of James comes to the Abbey to see if they can keep the Unicorns from eating the apples.

This book was great because I really LOVE fairy tales and especially if the fairytale has unicorns and knights in it. Some of words were really hard like scriptorium and chimera so I had to look up a lot until my grandma helped me to write down the hard words and what they mean. Once we did that it made the reading really easy and I love, love, loved the book. It was AWESOME! I hope the author will write more.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this Book by the publisher, ZonderKidz, Z Blog Squad for an honest review. I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.
(Posted on 2/5/2015)
Review by
Overall Rating
A Plague of Unicorns is a new book from New York Times bestselling author Jane Yolen. Jane Yolen has authored more than 350 books and has been the winner of several literary awards. A Plague of Unicorns is based on the author's short story "An Infestation of Unicorns" (published in her book Here There Be Unicorns).

A Plague of Unicorns is a hardcover book with a dust jacket (the dust jacket is printed with the cover image you see in the preview - the hardcover is solid olive green with a tan spine and green foiled lettering). The text is large and there are some illustrations throughout the book. (There seem to be more illustrations in the earlier chapters than there are in the later chapters.)

For me, A Plague of Unicorns was difficult to get into...and although it did pick up a bit around chapter 4, it remained a book that was just not particularly appealing to me. The chapters are relatively short, and seem to be broken up into snippets of a story rather than a continuous flow. (For example: chapter 7 has 8 marked sections in approximately 12 pages of text.) I wish A Plague of Unicorns had a glossary of terms, as there were a variety of uncommon words used without good contextual clues. (A few examples: abbot/abbey, bestiaries, pleurisy, oblate, etc.) As far as I was concerned, there was no real "action" in the story until around the last quarter of the book. That is not to say that I feel like all books should be action-packed, but the first 3/4 of A Plague of Unicorns felt rather dull and unappealing.

I was excited to have a chance to review A Plague of Unicorns and was hopeful that my kids would enjoy it as well, but my daughter (who often reads hundreds of pages in books per week) picked this book up and returned it shortly thereafter, unfinished. My son still intends to try it...time will tell what he thinks of it.

Obviously, with over 350 books and a variety of awards under her belt, Jane Yolen has a good fan base. Although A Plague of Unicorns is not a book I plan to read again, there are others out there who might enjoy it.

FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews. (Posted on 1/17/2015)
Review by Jalynn
Overall Rating
James, the son of the Duke, was sent to the Cranford Abbey due to his constant irritating questionable nature. Upon arrival 8 year old James discovers that the abbey has a few issues that no one had any knowledge of except the monks. The abbey was once a beautiful place but now it is run down and infested with pesky unicorns, that keep eating all of the golden apples. The golden apples can be used to make amazing apple cider that the monks wish to sell to earn money in order to fix up the abbey.

It seems that they are fresh out of ideas to rid the abbey of the unicorns. Right now they are at a loss to this issue. But young James may just have the best idea for this situation. Maybe for once his nosiness will pay off. This is a cute little book for the 8-12 age group.

**Disclosure** This book was sent to me free of charge for my honest review from my participation in Z Blog Squad. (Posted on 1/5/2015)

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