Book review: ‘Wee Unicorn’

Wee Unicorn
Meg McLaren

Wee Unicorn book cover

THE unicorn has never gone out of fashion and its magical presence has long been rendered in children’s books in all manner of ways. However, in Wee Unicorn, Inverness-based writer and illustrator Meg McLaren transform’s the fabled creature from a being with mystical powers to a lonely protagonist who yearns to be loved despite not living up to her myth.

Wee Unicorn understands what it’s like to be misunderstood, and after she unintentionally hurts the Loch Ness Monster’s feelings, she sets out to make it right. With the dubious help from beings from Scottish folklore (such as the mischievous selkie, kind mountain giants, spritely heather fairies, etc) Wee Unicorn uses her big voice to search for the Loch Ness Monster and ultimately discovers her own identity outside everyone’s preconceptions – magical, that is.

Tales of self-discovery and being true to yourself are not a new theme in children’s books; however, McLaren’s subverts the unicorn myth in a way that is both fresh and full-of-heart. Wee Unicorn teaches children the importance of accepting differences, not just in others but in themselves too. Her journey from being an outcast to mending the feelings of another outcast demonstrates empathy and building self-confidence in a beautiful way and brings along some of our favourite Scottish beasties to do so.

While Wee Unicorn doesn’t have any magic to speak of, McLaren’s illustrations certainly bring a sense of the fantastic. Her use of colour and contrast is well done, showing bright moments in the Scottish scenery but my favourite illustrations were the subtle but powerful instances of light in the so-called darkness – highlighting that fear is often our own creation.

This beautiful book is sure to be a child’s favourite, bringing to life beloved Scottish mythology with a story of compassion and trusting in oneself at the helm. Wee Unicorn will be available on 16 February.

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Plus, don’t miss more book reviews in the March issue of Scottish Field magazine.