Unicorn Academy #1: Sophia and Rainbow Library Binding – January 8, 2019
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About the Author
Since graduating from Loughborough University with a degree in illustration, Lucy Truman has become one of the UK's leading commercial illustrators. Her inspiration often comes from the very funny little people in her own life, including family holidays with her nephew as well as her own children. Visit her at lucytruman.com.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
“Race you!” called Harry, Sophia’s seven-year- old brother.
Sophia couldn’t wait to see the school after five hours of riding, and she would have loved to gallop, but she slid from her shaggy gray pony’s back and patted his neck fondly. “Sorry, Harry, but Clover’s tired. I’m not going to make him race.”
Clover, who was old and couldn’t go fast anymore, pushed his nose gratefully into Sophia’s hair. Her wavy black curls hung over his muzzle like a droopy mustache. Sophia giggled, but there was a heavy weight in her stomach. Now that she was ten, she was thrilled to be old enough to attend Unicorn Academy and finally get a unicorn of her own. But she was really going to miss Clover! “All right, sweetie?” asked her mom, trotting up alongside. Solitaire, her mom’s unicorn, was fully grown and looked very elegant compared to short- legged Clover. “You’re going to have a fantastic time here at the school, but I expect it feels quite strange at the moment. Remember to be polite and please try to think first before rushing into things.”
Sophia grinned. “As if I’d do that, Mom!” “Hmm,” her mom said, raising her eyebrows.
Then her expression softened. “Remember that all the other girls and boys will probably be feeling as nervous as you. But it won’t be long before you get to know each other.”
“I am a little bit nervous about making friends,” admitted Sophia, “but I’m more worried about Clover.” She stroked Clover’s neck. “Do you think he’ll be okay without me?”
“He’ll be fine,” said her mom. “He’s getting old, and he’ll be happy having a quieter life. Harry and I will make sure he gets lots of cuddles. Don’t worry about Clover. Just enjoy getting to know your own special unicorn, bonding and learning to work together to protect our island.”
Sophia’s heart swelled. She loved the thought of protecting Unicorn Island, their beautiful home. “I wonder what my unicorn will be like and what its magical power will be. I hope it can heal like Solitaire.”
Each unicorn was born with its own special magical power. There were many different powers, and young unicorns usually found out what they could do in their first year at Unicorn Academy.
Sophia’s mom leaned down to push a stray black curl out of Sophia’s eyes. “I’m sure you’ll love your unicorn, whatever power it has.”
Sophia fell quiet as she climbed back onto Clover and rode him through the green tunnel of trees toward the school. She really wanted her unicorn to be able to heal. With healing magic, maybe she could take away some of Clover’s aches and pains. The tunnel ended, and Sophia rode Clover out into the pale January sunlight. Excitement rushed inside her as she stared at the enormous building of marble and glass with a fountain sparkling in front of it. She’d dreamed of this moment for years.
“It’s beautiful.” She could hardly tear her eyes away from the majestic towers of the school and the perfectly kept gardens surrounding it that were filled with plants and flowers, even in winter. In the distance, the multicolored, magical water of the famous Sparkle Lake glittered in the sunshine. “I wish I was old enough to come here,” said
Girls and boys were rushing in all directions. Teachers called out instructions. A group of girls stood together at the bottom of the steps that swept up to the school’s front door. They looked like they’d just arrived. Sophia took a deep breath. This was it. Time to say goodbye to Clover and her family! She wrapped her arms around Clover’s neck, burying her face and tears in his soft mane. “Goodbye, Clover darling. Have a nice rest grazing in the field.”
Mom touched her arm. “Shall I walk you over to the others?”
“No, I’ll be fine.” Sophia dried her eyes in Clover’s mane before giving Mom and Harry a hug. “Bye!”
Sophia approached the girls. She particularly liked the look of a girl with a sprig of blue forget- me-nots in her dark, chin-length bob, and she gave her a shy smile. The girl grinned back. Sophia was about to ask her name when a tall lady came toward them. She had a thin, pale face and a long nose with tiny glasses balanced on the end. A girl with wavy brown hair walked confidently by her side. She had sharp green eyes and a long, thin nose just like the teacher’s. Sophia smiled at her, but the girl just glared, her nose twitching as if she had smelled something bad.
“Girls,” said the teacher abruptly. “I’m Ms. Nettles, your geography and culture teacher. Follow me. You’re the last to arrive, and Ms. Primrose is waiting in the hall to pair you with your unicorns. Hurry up. No dawdling.”
Sophia fell into step with the dark-haired girl. “Hi, I’m Sophia,” she whispered.“I’m Ava,” the girl replied. She nodded at Ms.
Nettles. “She looks a bit scary, doesn’t she?”
Ms. Nettles’s head whipped around. Her skinny neck and mean eyes made her look like a bad- tempered tortoise. “No talking!” she snapped.
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Top international reviews
Sophia is ten and is old enough to attend Unicorn Academy and get a unicorn of her own. She lives on Unicorn Island and each unicorn there has a special, magical power. As well as a magical unicorn story, this is also a school story, with the usual scary, mean teacher (Miss Nettles), a kind headteacher (Ms Primrose), a stuck-up, unpleasant girl (Valentina) and lots of fun friends.
The idea of the academy is for children on the island to spend a year, training and bonding, with their own, special unicorn. When they bond, a lock of the girls hair will change to the same colour as their unicorn’s mane. This has an exciting storyline, with a good combination of magical unicorns and problems that young girls can relate to. I am sure that both my daughter and niece will be keen to continue the series.
Really pleased daughter is enjoying it very much :)
Easy to read and fast-paced, this story is engaging and really delightful. The sentence structure is quite simple and phrases are joined by simple conjunctions such as ‘and’. The vocabulary is not especially taxing but an effort has been made to employ a range of adjectives such as ‘lush green valleys, dusty plains, deep green forests and sandy beaches’. However, these are fairly repetitive such as ‘green’ in the above sentence.
Black and white illustrations adorn some of the pages and add to the descriptions of the adventures that take place at the Unicorn Academy.
All in all, this is an enjoyable reading adventure and is part of a series of Unicorn Academy books.
The first thing to say about “Unicorn Academy: Sophia and Rainbow” is that its design reminded me of the Rainbow Fairy books by Daisy Meadows. The colourful, sparkly cover complete with rainbow on it, surrounding the centre picture of Sophia and her Unicorn Rainbow, reminded me very much of that successful series. No doubt they are aiming to attract the same audience.
Second thing to say is that this is the first title in the series. This is reflected in the story, in my opinion, which has a gentle pace before the story eventually takes off only towards the end.
Thirdly I agree with another reviewer that there is an unresolved story element at the end which means this book is not entirely self-contained. It may be that the mysterious villain’s identity will be revealed in a future book, but I, and my daughter, will likely never find out for sure who it was.
The story follows Sophia who has gone to Unicorn Academy for the first time. “Welcome to Unicorn Academy. Now you are ten years old it is time for you to spend a year here, training and bonding with your own special unicorn. You and your unicorn will be partners for life, helping each other and looking after Unicorn Island.”
Sophia is partnered with Rainbow, but feels a pang of guilt at leaving her beloved pony Clover at home promising her that she’d “never love any unicorn as much as I love you”. But Sophia and Rainbow do end up bonding – “When you bond with your unicorn, a lock of your hair will turn the same colour as your unicorn’s mane” – on their first adventure.
For young unicorn lovers the magic and the thought of being paired with your own unicorn should capture the imagination and make this a decent read.
Sophia and her family live on Unicorn Island. Now she’s 10 years old, and it’s her time to go to the Unicorn Academy. This is where she’ll get her own unicorn, although she’s really excited about that, she’s upset about having to leave her pony Clover behind. Her Mother and Brother escort her to her new school and promise her that they’ll look after Clover.
Sophia was very nervous, she meets a lovely girl called Ava and they become friends. Inside the school, they meet Ms Primrose; she’s the teacher who pairs them up with their unicorn.
When Sophia and Ava are paired with their unicorns that’s when their adventure starts.
This is a lovely little story by the author, Julie Sykes. I love her descriptive work and she’s given her characters plenty of depth. The lovely illustrations are by Lucy Truman.
My girls thought both Julie and Lucy had done a fantastic job with both the story and illustrations. They are looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
I can recommend this book.
My seven-year-old daughter loved Sophia and Rainbow, reading some of the novel independently and some together for bedtime stories. The text wasn't too dense and there are enough black-and-white illustrations to help break up the prose. The story is easy to follow and I'm pretty sure that my daughter imagined herself in the place of the main character, and found it a joy to read. I think we'll be looking for book two in the series!