Cover of Where Have the Unicorns Gone? by Jane Yolen

Where Have the Unicorns Gone?

I love unicorns. But the overly saccharine, My-Little-Pony unicorns that seem to be everywhere don’t appeal to me at all. I like my unicorns with muscle and tone. Ruth Sanderson unicorns! I began this book with the question about where they had all gone, and ended up writing a poem about the industrial rape of the planet. Ruth did a full book dummy and we presented it to one publisher who turned it down. When the editor at Simon & Schuster saw it next, she said, “This is a no brainer: Yolen/Sanderson/unicorns. If I can’t sell this …” I think these are the best pictures Ruth has ever done, and that is saying a lot since she is so brilliant at what she does. She had four of the original paintings up at an art show at the Boston science fiction convention and won three ribbons for them. The book is on the Tennessee 2002-2003 Volunteer State Book Award Primary Master Reading List.

I also did Sleeping Beauty with Ruth.

What reviewers have said:

  • “A gifted wordsmith answers the title question in verse set to Sanderson’s most powerful, expressive art to date. Where are the unicorns? Fleeing the “helmeted knights and their steel-weapon games,” the “clacketing mills” and “iron sharp city-straight scapes,” the unicorns have escaped to the sea, where “in the moment that separates nighttime and dawn, / The instant of daydream that’s here and then gone, / You might see the toss of a mane or a horn. …” Using rough, prepared surfaces to capture texture, Sanderson adds layers of misty color to create a feeling of depth between the powerful, iridescent-looking beasts in the foreground, and the human works–castles, factories, a space shuttle roaring up from its launch pad–past which they gallop. The grand, lyrical sweep of poem and pictures together will carry readers to a place where the mundane and the magical blend.” — Booklist
  • “A gentle rhyme that incorporates some unusual words describes the flight of the unicorns, as they move away from human habitations and into waterways and seas. The illustrations juxtapose scenes of the mythical creatures in the wild against images that show the growth of civilization. … readers who enjoy unicorn lore will appreciate this new vision of an old theme.” — Horn Book
  • “Yolen’s answer to the title question is given in rhymed verses that trace the escape of the mythic creatures from pursuit by knights and from the noise, congestion, and pollution of today. They always run to water, for which they have a legendary affinity. Their racing and galloping is described with vivid imagery. The conclusion brings us back to the sea, where perhaps we may see their traces when the moon is full, “in the moment that separates nighttime and dawn.” Sanderson sets the poetic text in large double-page, naturalistic scenes that parallel the emotional surges–

Available in hardcover.