The Desert Unicorn

Bon­nie Grub­man and Ker­ry Olitzky; Amberin Huq, illus.

  • Review
By – June 14, 2022

It was­n’t easy for young chil­dren when the Jew­ish peo­ple escaped from Egypt­ian slav­ery and set out on their ardu­ous jour­ney across the desert toward the Promised Land. Yes, they had help­ful, encour­ag­ing words from lead­ers such as Miri­am and the heav­en­ly man­na, which tast­ed just like their favorite foods, but the days were blaz­ing hot, and the nights were icy cold. Young Zachary and Abi­gail could­n’t help but wish for a mag­i­cal crea­ture that would make the jour­ney seem faster and more entertaining.

Their wish comes true with the appear­ance of a sparkling uni­corn, which leads the chil­dren and their friends to a beau­ti­ful oasis, where they splash, play, and refresh their tired bod­ies. Unseen by any adults, the mag­i­cal uni­corn accom­pa­nies the chil­dren on their long trek, pro­vid­ing hope and encour­age­ment until the jour­ney’s end and their long-await­ed entrance to the Land of Israel, their new home.

A note explains that the sto­ry is based on an ancient rab­binic dis­cus­sion regard­ing a tachash,” an uniden­ti­fied ani­mal men­tioned in the Bible. It empha­sizes the impor­tance of hope and opti­mism, which are vital to achiev­ing suc­cess after a long ordeal, leav­ing the read­er much to think about and dis­cuss when deal­ing with tribu­la­tions of their own.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

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