cover image The Dwarf, the Giant, and the Unicorn: A Tale of King Arthur

The Dwarf, the Giant, and the Unicorn: A Tale of King Arthur

James Cross Giblin. Clarion Books, $15.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-395-60520-2

In his first work of fiction, Giblin (When Plague Strikes; The Truth About Unicorns) retells the final episode of a little-known Arthurian adventure, but without memorable results. Stranded on an island with his men, Arthur comes across an articulate English-born dwarf. The dwarf recounts how he and his infant son--now a giant--ended up on the island and survived with the help of a unicorn, who suckled the infant and hunted for the dwarf. Arthur does not perform any feats of particular bravery: his role is a talking one. The dwarf worries that his son, who has killed other visitors to the island, may harm Arthur, but the giant is not truly menacing, just unsocialized. When he finally appears, Arthur pacifies him by saying, ""I want to be your friend."" Unfortunately, Ewart's (One Cold Night) hazy watercolor and colored pencil art does not add suspense to this talky story. In only two pictures is Arthur brought sufficiently into focus to give readers a sense of what he looks like. The artist's muted style works somewhat better for the flashback scenes, which depict tiny unicorns frolicking in deep woods, framed with period-inspired borders. Giblin notes in an afterword that the story's inclusion of a female unicorn is rare; it is too bad that this minor addition to the Arthurian canon doesn't have something more eventful to distinguish it. Ages 7-10. (Oct.)