A Plague of UnicornsBook - 2014
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.
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Every year in the autumn, when the apples were at their ripest, the unicorns arrived at the old abbey in a sudden parade of trotting silver hooves and swirling manes.
Every year they invaded the abbey’s apple orchard, eating all the rare golden apples that grew there. And every year Abbot Aelian, wishing to save those apples, tried yet another unsuccessful way to stop the fierce invaders and their sharp horns. Nothing worked.
Then James, a young boy who asked endless questions, arrived at the abbey.
Knowing that the abbot wanted to harvest the rare apples for cider (to be sold to raise money to repair the dilapidated, once-beautiful abbey) James watched the unicorns carefully and came up with an idea.
However, there was a problem. James had been so bothersome to everyone with his many questions - many of them quite strange and unanswerable - that no one wanted to listen to him or his idea!
How can he put his idea into action? Is there someone who can help?
Jane Yolen is a master storyteller, and she has woven a charming fairy tale of adventure and magic, one which is true to the medieval time period and interspersed with humour, ** Recommended for ages 7 to 10 years.
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