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The Dirty Little Unicorn by Stephen Dedman

The Dirty Little Unicorn

by Stephen Dedman

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The Dirty Little Unicorn is an illustrated story of 22 pages, with text in calligraphy done by the illustrator, Keira McKenzie. The author Stephen Dedman created this limited edition of 200 copies of the chapbook, with the binding being staples and the cover a typical glossy trade paperback cover.

The story is about a young unicorn who cannot manage to stay clean. A chameleon, a caterpillar, and a beaver all tell the unicorn that the secret to survival is not being seen. When she is sent out on her own by her parents, she tries to stay clean but cannot. She comes across a virgin, and being a unicorn, is inexplicably drawn to her. But the virgin screams and runs, because the unicorn is so caked with dirt that she looks like some monster. The unicorn tries to follow, and spots her sitting against a tree. SPOILER*** As she is about to step out of the woods, another unicorn, clean and shining, crosses the glade and lays its head on the virgin's lap. At that point a hunter steps out of the wood and slays the clean unicorn - it was a trap all along. The little unicorn runs away, alive. ***END OF SPOILER The end of the story:

"Alison is still a dirty little unicorn. She plays in the mud and the fallen leaves, doesn't wash, and is a good friend to chameleons and caterpillars. Only if you looked very carefully beneath the dirt and leaves and twigs could you see a unicorn. Maybe you'll never see one. (And maybe you'll never see a virgin either.)"

The writing is not nearly as polished as the author's published novels as perhaps befits the early date of publication in his career, but it suits the tale well enough. This is a marvelous little story, close to a fairy tale, and the illustrations in ink are fetching. The surprising moment at the apex of the story is a brilliant turn of events, and foreshadows the wonderful imagination displayed in the author's books 'The Art of Arrow-Cutting', etc. The chapbook seems to be very difficult to find, but it is charming. Buy it and enjoy it, if you ever come across it. ( )
2 vote bibliojim | Oct 13, 2007 |
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