A vibrantly illustrated official guide to everything unicorn-related, from the Magical Unicorn Society.
After centuries of mystery, the mythical Magical Unicorn Society has published its official handbook.
These learned lovers of unicorns have created a veritable treasure trove of unicorn lorethe facts, the fiction, the where, why and what of these elusive creatures. Discover where unicorns really live around the world, how to find them, and what they eat Learn how to look after them, what powers they have, how to tempt them, train them, and even ride them, and so much more.
With breathtaking artwork from Helen Dardik and Harry and Zanna Goldhawk, this special book is the ultimate gift for true believers.
About the Author
Selwyn E. Phipps is the President of the Magical Unicorn Society. After years of traveling the world in search of rare and beautiful unicorns, now he is sharing what he's learned about these magical creatures. He's based in London, the center of unicorn lore and learning.
Helen Dardik is a professional illustrator and a surface pattern designer based in Canada. Vibrant, folksy, playful toomuchery is a perfect way to describe her style. Born by the Black Sea, Helen lived in Siberia for a time and then moved to Israel, where she studied art and design. In the early nineties she relocated to Canada, where she got a graphic design degree and found work as a designer and illustrator.
Zanna and Harry Goldhawk are a husband and wife illustrating team working from their seaside cottage in Cornwall. They take huge inspiration from color and nature, and split their time between illustrating beautiful books and designing gorgeous products for their business Papio Press.
Jonny Leighton (contributor) is a writer and editor based in London. He has written middle-grade fiction and chapter books for Macmillan U.S. (Disaster Diaries) and Sourcebooks U.S. (Dino Riders), as well as developing fiction series for the U.K., U.S. and European markets. He likes writing about brave heroes in imaginative worlds, and reading about them, too.
Read an Excerpt
WHAT IS THE MAGICAL UNICORN SOCIETY?
The Magical Unicorn Society unites people across the globe who love unicorns. The job of the men and women of the Society is to document everything there is to know about these unique creatures and to protect them whenever they are in need. We track unicorns in their natural habitats, document our encounters with them, study their ways and record the stories that surround them. So if you do want to find out everything there is to know about unicorns, you've come to the right place. (OK – we know nearly everything. Mustn't boast!)
The Society has branches all around the world, from Paris to Madrid, Hong Kong to Tokyo and New York to Buenos Aires. My local branch is in a snug little place called Silver Square, an old building nestled among the cosy Victorian terraces of South London. It is, for now, the headquarters of the whole organization. However, the headquarters have been in many different locations around the world during the Society's long history.
Silver Square houses the Society's great library, which contains all the knowledge handed down over the centuries by our intrepid and dedicated members. The earliest documents in the library date back to Ancient Egyptian times. The pharaohs of the day wanted to know more about the Desert Flame unicorns that they saw trekking across the Sahara. They sent warriors to capture the unicorns and tame them. But of course this was foolish: unicorns cannot be tamed. Luckily, the pharaohs also tasked their brightest scholars with understanding these mystical creatures from a distance. The papyrus scrolls on which they recorded their findings are stored safely in the library to this day.
Over the years, many different people have come into contact with unicorns. A fearless Viking queen known as Thora the Brave formed a special bond with a wounded Ice Wanderer which she came across in the snowy wastelands of the north. She lost three fingers to frostbite on that fateful trip, but nevertheless wrote down all she discovered about these solitary creatures. Then there was the young king, named Dagobert, who lived in medieval France, who once encountered a beautiful Woodland Flower travelling through his kingdom. Unfortunately for the arrogant and vain Dagobert, the encounter didn't go quite as he'd hoped.
But it wasn't until the 16th century, in Renaissance Italy, that the Magical Unicorn Society was officially formed by Luca di Bosco and Alessandra Massima. They devoted their lives to gathering unicorn lore, and together they wrote and illustrated the first encyclopedia dedicated entirely to unicorns.
So you see, we have had many illustrious and noble members in our ranks over the centuries, as well as countless brave and fearless explorers. Today's members are dedicated to the same task as their predecessors. As a society, we've never been stronger, but we can always do more. That's why we are telling our story now, in the hope that we may inspire a new generation of people to respect and protect unicorns for decades to come.
Let's get lost in the land of unicorns ...
For as long as there have been humans, there have been unicorns, too. In fact, unicorns lived here on Earth eons before we did.
The Gold Unicorn and the Silver Unicorn are believed to have been the first of their kind. They existed back when the world was young, and magical creatures were as common as clouds in the sky. All sorts of enchanted beings lived on Earth at this time, from fleet-footed fairies to colonies of mischievous nymphs, and ice-breathing dragons that could freeze anything in their path. Unlike the Gold Unicorn and the Silver Unicorn, many of these magical creatures still exist today – if you know where to find them.
When humans appeared, they came into contact with unicorns and, at first, they lived in harmony together. However, things changed as people spread across the Earth, increasing in number and gaining powers of a different kind: mechanical, electrical, industrial. Humans came to rely on modern technologies and fewer people remembered the old magic. As the world grew busier and noisier, unicorns also became shyer creatures. They retreated to the highest mountains and deep into the thickest woods, where they used their intimate knowledge of the landscape and highly developed camouflage to hide themselves.
Over the decades, their magical powers evolved and became more specialized. Some unicorns have manes that can make them invisible at will. This allows them to roam unseen and without fear of harm. Others can fly, and anyone who tries to sneak up on them will find that they can disappear in the blink of an eye.
Because they are so hard to find, many people believe unicorns only exist in fairy tales. But we at the Society know that unicorns are real. There are seven types in the world today – Mountain Jewels, Water Moons, Woodland Flowers, Desert Flames, Ice Wanderers, Storm Chasers and Shadow Nights. On the following pages you will find a map of where in the world they have been seen.
WHERE IN THE WORLD?
Unicorns now wander far and wide, but these are the main centres of their original habitats. This map also includes notable Society buildings in existence today.
The Myth of the Gold Unicorn and the Silver Unicorn
The first-ever unicorns existed so far back in time that the Magical Unicorn Society has to rely on tales told around campfires by the earliest nomadic humans for any information about them. There have been many different stories since, but one thing that remains constant is that the first two unicorns in the world were a beautiful gold and a stunning silver.
The stories always begin in the distant, misty past, beside a magical river in the heart of the Himalayas. So many magical beings had sprung from this river that the surrounding hills were crowded with creatures of all shapes and sizes. There were double-winged birds that could fly to the edge of the atmosphere and luminous moths that lit up the night like exploding stars. Not all the magical beings were beautiful or good. The cruellest creatures of all were the Winter Dragons.
These beasts were ten metres long, with huge, sail-like wings. They were covered in shiny ice-blue scales, had eyes like sapphires and tails like metal whips. They lived in caves deep within the mountains, only emerging to hunt. Unlike other dragons, the Winter Dragons didn't breathe fire, but an icy inferno that froze their victims to the spot. The dragons could easily snatch up their defenceless prey and devour it in one gulp.
The Winter Dragons were a deadly menace for all the creatures that lived in the meadows beneath the mountains. They were regularly attacked by the dragons, and lived in fear. Yet, for a pair of horses who grazed there, a chance encounter with a Winter Dragon would change their lives in an unexpected way.
One evening, the two horses were nibbling on the lush grass and berries growing in the meadow. The Sun was beginning to dip towards the horizon and the air glowed purple and gold. Suddenly, out of this beautiful sky, a nightmarish dragon reared into view. The tawny-brown female horse and the snowy-grey male turned to run as the Winter Dragon swooped down for the kill.
The scaly monster blasted the landscape with its icy breath, leaving trees and shrubs encased in thick frost. The horses whinnied in fear, kicked up their hooves and galloped desperately towards the mountains. Despite being treacherous territory for horses, it was their only hope of escape.
As the horses climbed, the air grew bitterly cold and their hooves slipped on the rocks. The tawny-brown horse spotted a rocky outcrop and darted towards it. The silver-grey horse followed, and together they huddled underneath it. Shielded by the rock, they were protected, but completely trapped.
The Winter Dragon blasted the horses, freezing their tails, but its huge claws couldn't get hold of them. The winged beast roared and lurched skywards once more. The horses seized their chance and galloped as fast as they could along a mountain pass, towards a raging waterfall — where the river's magic was strongest.
The roar of the falls was immense and a thick mist swirled and frothed around the cliff side. The horses realized that to get to the other side of the pass they had no option but to plunge through the cascading waters. But they need not have been afraid — the river never harmed an animal with a good heart, or one in need. And no animals had ever been in greater need than they.
As the Sun touched the horizon, which is a particularly magical time of day, the horses charged through the waterfall. Inside the thrashing falls, neither horse could see a thing; all they could do was keep going. Then something magical happened. The last ray of sunshine bounced off the waterfall and a transformation occurred. When they stepped out the other side, they were no longer horses. They were unicorns.
The tawny-brown horse had become golden from head to tail. Its new horn shone as brightly as the Sun. The white-grey horse had become silver, with a dazzling coat like the reflected moon and a pale silver horn. They had grown bigger and stronger, and they were about to find out they had amazing, special powers.
But the unicorns didn't have time to reflect on their change because the Winter Dragon was upon them. As they rushed away from the magical waterfall and on to a snowy mountain ledge, the dragon attacked. When its ghastly jaws were just a hair's breadth from their necks, the Silver Unicorn stamped its hoof on the ground. In an instant, the silver of its coat grew even brighter, blinding the dragon. Then the Golden Unicorn stamped its hoof and a huge wall of snow surged down the mountain. The avalanche battered into the side of the dragon, sweeping it off the mountainside and into the abyss below.
The two new unicorns were stunned, but discovered they had still more magical powers. They were able to move sure-footedly at great speed across the mountainside and could make themselves invisible at will. Gone were the days of fearing the Winter Dragons.
Over the coming days their magic grew until the unicorns gained complete control of their powers. They became confident enough to leave the enchanted plains and wander the Earth. Each time they found a suitable location, they would bow their heads and touch the ground with their horns. In an instant, a new family of unicorns would spring from the spot. A family of unicorns is called a blessing and each new blessing they created was wonderfully unique. In this way, the seven families of unicorns arrived and established themselves in lands stretching from the icy north to the sweltering desert sands.
The Lore of the Gold Unicorn and the Silver Unicorn
The Gold Unicorn and the Silver Unicorn were the first unicorns to appear at a time when the Earth was full of magic.
One had a horn of glistening gold and the other of pale silver.
These unicorns had sleek, short-haired coats and manes woven with delicate strands of gold or silver.
They lived in lush valleys, in the shadow of tall mountains.
Invisibility Ability to produce shockwaves and light Speed Power to bring new unicorns into the world
The Gold Unicorn and the Silver Unicorn represent new life.
Unicorns have big appetites and their basic diet consists of grass, plants, flowers and berries. However, as with humans, a unicorn's diet varies depending on its habitat. This visual guide introduces some of the most common unicorn foods.
The unicorns who inhabit icy landscapes must forage under the snow to find the nutrients they need.
These help keep unicorns warm.
This plant is full of vitamins for a healthy coat.
Diamond Leaf Willow
This builds speed and agility.
These strengthen the unicorns' eyesight, much needed for those long, dark winters.
Mountain ranges provide an abundance of plants and flowers for unicorns to feast on.
This is the ideal plant to keep a Mountain Jewel unicorn looking shiny and healthy.
The leaves of this plant are perfect for toughening hooves.
Yellow and White Orchids
These flowers help strengthen muscle, important for a unicorn's balance on mountain slopes.
This is a tasty unicorn treat.
Arid land and blistering heat mean desert unicorns have to be clever to find the foods they need to survive.
Silver Torch Cactus
These cacti are full of water and nutrients — Desert Flames use their horns to break them open.
These are good for a healthy heart.
These enhance a unicorn's hearing.
This plant is poisonous to all creatures except unicorns. It provides a quick energy boost for a blessing.
Unicorns that live near oceans, lakes and rivers have a huge variety of food to choose from.
This gives just the right boost to a unicorn's magical powers.
These sugary petals are a special treat.
Dwarf Water Lilies
These are great for speed and flexibility.
The seed heads are perfect for protection from the Sun.
Mountain Jewel unicorns are strong, fierce and resilient. They have to be, as they are found in some of the harshest environments on Earth. From the Himalayas to the Andes, and from the Alps to the Hindu Kush, these unicorns survive and thrive.
Mountain Jewel unicorns are capable of travelling huge distances across rocky and icy terrain, as well as surviving at very high altitude and through cold, brutal winters.
There is some variation in their colouration and appearance across their different habitats. In South America, Mountain Jewels are a pale, dove grey, with splashes of dusty pink across their bodies and manes. They have thick, shaggy coats for extra warmth and beautiful coral horns. They use these horns as beacons at night, sending out pink light through the skies to communicate with other unicorns across vast distances. They are inclined to solitude and wander alone across the salt flats and foothills in search of food and shelter.
In contrast, the Mountain Jewels of Central Asia are more sociable creatures. They travel together in blessings of at least five or six unicorns, but there are stories of these herds reaching up to a hundred in number. Their territory is enormous. In the spring and summer they can be found travelling across the Central Asian steppe, a massive area of grassland perfect for grazing. But as the year turns, they make their way south to the long mountain ranges of the Hindu Kush and the Himalayas, where they live among rocky clifftops.
Central Asian Mountain Jewels are a tawny, light brown colour, and some have dark, spotted patches on their coats. Their horns are made of beautiful brown opal, a dark stone, which is flecked with blues, pinks and greens. Rather than emitting light, these horns radiate warmth.
Mountain Jewels are known to be one of the gruffer unicorn species. They are hardy, no-nonsense animals. They can trek to the point where other animals would die of exhaustion and just keep on going. These unicorns fight and quarrel among themselves, and even butt horns together in annoyance. Quite what they have to be cross about is hard to say. Perhaps all that time spent with their families and herds gets on their nerves.
I have seen magnificent Mountain Jewels fighting with my own eyes. As a young man, I was trekking through Nepal when I came across two young males battling with each other. They didn't see me, as I was hiding behind a rock. When they clacked horns together, colourful sparks flew off in all directions, like a rainbow-coloured sparkler on Bonfire Night. Eventually, I sneezed and they spotted me – an embarrassing mistake on my part. They stopped fighting and dashed off down the mountainside without a backward glance.
After my trek, I spent some time at a temple with a learned scholar and fellow society member named Ditya Giri, who told me about the local legend of the Mountain Jewels. She showed me a mural painted on a wall inside the temple that depicted the Battle of the Shining Jewels, which had taken place over a thousand years before near the mountain city of Mandu.
Back then, Mandu was a trading city, selling goods such as silk, spices, fruit and vegetables. But what made it a special city lay in the mountains beyond its walls where there were mines bursting with precious jewels — corals, opals, pearls, sapphires and diamonds. The citizens were grateful for the jewels that made them rich, and knew that they owed this wealth to the Mountain Jewel unicorns that lived in the mountains.
Centuries before, the city folk had begun to worship the Mountain Jewels. Some people even tried to live among the unicorns. It took years for trust to develop between the unicorns and those people, who became known as "Whisperers". However, eventually the unicorns not only accepted them, but also showed them the hidden jewel mines, full of riches.
Naturally, many people in neighbouring cities were jealous of Mandu's wealth, and the city became a target for bandits. One night a gang of robbers set fire to part of the city wall. The flames spread quickly and soon the great wooden gate that protected the city was completely destroyed. When the fire eventually died down, Mandu was ravaged by the bandits, who looted it to the last diamond.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Magical Unicorn Society Official Handbook"
Copyright © 2018 Michael O'Mara Books Limited.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
What is the Magical Unicorn Society?,
Where in the World?,
The Myth of the Gold Unicorn and the Silver Unicorn,
The A to Z of Unicorns,
A Brief History of Unicorns,
How to Communicate with Unicorns,
A Spotter's Guide to Tracking Unicorns,
The Qualities of Unicorns,
Unicorn Beliefs and Superstitions,
Your Guardian Unicorn,
The Magical Unicorn Society,
About the Illustrators,
About the Author,