Valerio the dragon and Allegra the unicorn live in the pristine Ardet Forest where they watch over all the other animals who share their home. But one day, humans arrive, cutting down the beautiful trees to build a new castle for King Orlando. Then the king sends knights to capture Allegra for her magic. Valerio and Allegra barely escape and go into hiding. But the wise Allegra knows that the humans are merely scared of all the strange new things in the forest, so she risks befriending King Orlando's young daughter, Arianna. The princess proves to be kind and caring and listens to Allegra's teachings on why it is so important to care for the forest and its inhabitants, so that when the king comes looking for her, she is able to share this new wisdom with her father.
The Dragon and the Unicorn is a fun fantasy story that also tells a morality tale about caring for the environment. Valerio the dragon and Allegra the unicorn are best friends who live in a beautiful, pristine forest over which they keep watch. But one day, humans arrive. They begin cutting down the ancient trees to build a castle for their king, leaving Valerio and Allegra sad and worried for all their forest friends. Then the king's knights come into the forest and nearly trap Allegra, who they believe has magic in her horn. With Valerio's help, she escapes and they hide. Allegra is wise, though, and knows that the humans are afraid of them and the mysteries of the forest, so she takes a chance on befriending the young princess, showing her all the wondrous and magical things there are amongst the trees and teaching her how important it is to care for all of them.
I've always loved animals and nature, including mythological beasts like dragons and unicorns, so The Dragon and the Unicorn was a truly enchanting tale for me, as I imagine it would be for most children as well. I love that it gently teaches children about caring for the plants and animals around us and about the magic that can be found in all of nature. I also appreciated the diversity represented in the story by having a Black royal family. Valerio and Allegra are gentle creatures who watch over the other inhabitants of the forest. The young princess Arianna is kind and caring, while her father, King Orlando, is simply frightened and misguided. The illustrations are stunning and rich in details with intricate vine-like borders around the pages that make the reader feel like they really are in a forest. I could've spent a great deal of time just perusing all of the pictures. This is a truly beautiful book that would make a great addition to any child's library and which has found a spot on my own keeper shelf. This was my first read by Lynne Cherry, but I now very much look forward to checking out her other works.
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