bad, bad unicorn: a review

Allow me to share with you a few lines of the devastatingly awful book I just read to my daughter. Actually, that's a lie. I couldn't get through the thing. Please gimme a witness on this:

"In a mirror of sunrise glitter, dawn was born again in a land of crystalline splendor. As the sunshine crept across the diamond mountains, it shimmered from the crystal trees and flowers that made up this wondrous land."


"For, you see, all living things in this land were cast from either glass, diamond or crystal. The only colors were splashes of blue, silver and gold."

I feel a little woosy just typing the words. But I'm hanging on because:

"In this magic land, many strange crystal creatures frolicked in the dancing lights of day. There were crystal-like birds called glimmerings, smiling little lizards called beamers and, most beautiful of all, horse-like creatures called lightasoars, who had wings made of delicate diamonds so they could fly wherever the eye could see."

OK. That's just a taste. The story goes on to relate the strange occurence of something brown in this blue, silver and gold world, and how all the creatures (despite their beauty) are total haters to the brown thing, except one, of course. This brown thing grows up to be a beautiful rose and brings beautiful red rose color to their formerly red-deprived world. Theeeee End.

All the above dreck is copyrighted, of course, and I bow low to the copyright gods (and to the book's corporate sponsors, the diamond industry). I grovel at their sixteen-toed feet. But puhlease, people:

Is this what gets published? I mean, how should I take this? I see two ways:

1. I'm appalled that this manuscript came into print. It makes me lose faith in editors and publishers of children's books, and by extension in all editors and publishers.

2. I'm encouraged because if this piece of something that rhymes with pap can get into print, so can a manuscript of mine.

Neither satisfies.

I look at the imprint: "Copyright 1980" (maybe that's the explanation right there). "No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher, except for brief passages included in a review appearing in a newspaper or magazine."

Or a blog.

I added that last part. But this is a review, or has caused one--a review of my own goals for my writing. We've all seen terrible books in our own coveted genre get published, books we hear great things about and hope to love and end up putting aside, aghast by what gets printed.

So. I don't write to get published. I don't write to get paid. I hope to continue writing the book I'm writing, because I love doing it. I hope to have a finished manuscript, and to look for an editor and publisher.

Do I want my work published? You damn skippy I do. But that's not the point of writing. I'll find an editor, and a publisher, but they don't sit at my desk with me, they're not at the table. It's my character I'm writing for, it's her story that I want to tell, not my own, not the story of how I wrote a book and got published.

What luck! It's recycling day. I have just one more item to add to the pile.


caveblogem said...


I think the world needs works like this because the writers of South Park and The Simpsons need things to parody. But it is painful for those random encounters.

And I wouldn't worry about extensively quoting and pushing the limits of fair use. I can't imagine the author identifying (it)self by by filing suit.

A few years back we were at the Berenstain Bears level of reading. A large number of these books (not all, though) are written in verse, but the writers took such liberties with scansion, meter, rhyming, etc., that I actually felt physical pain when reading them. I wince just thinking about it.

I hope your little one gets better soon.

mary said...

Hey, maybe the writer of this book is married to a publisher? Or maybe the sister of a publisher? Or married to the sister of a publisher? Somewhere, somehow, this "writer" must have had an "in."
That's what I figure, anyway

strugglingwriter said...

I don't know. I think it would have been better if they mentioned crystals a few more times.