So I know you've been at the edge of your seat, patiently waiting to hear what has happened in the beginning of my German children's book The Secret of the Unicorns or Das Geheimnis der Einhörner. I've finished the first chapter and all I can say is, wow, children's books are not as concerned with proper story formatting or character development as the books I've read in the last 25 years, but that's ok. Reading fiction for youngsters makes me feel a bit like I have ADD, as the storyline bounces from subject to subject with no real background or context. But that's ok because we are dealing with unicorns here and exceptions can be made for material concerning these glorious, mystical creatures.
To catch you up, Laura lives on a farm and has a grey pony. When she visits the pony at night and recites the Verwandlungszauber, or literally "metamorphosis magic", her pony turns into a snow-white unicorn! Duh. I think we all saw that one coming. So that is Stair Tail or Sternenschweif, her unicorn pal. And apparently Laura has some kind of mind reading capabilities with Star Tail as she can hear his voice in her head but his mouth doesn't move. Sounds creepy to me but I'll go with it. On this particular evening she has visited Star Tail with a wooden box she got from her adult friend, Mrs. Fontana. Mrs. Fontana had owned the bookstore in town and had given Laura the box, just before she suddenly died. Not sure why the author decided to kill this poor lady within the first two pages of a children's book, but whatever. So Laura has the box and is telling Star Tail she hopes together they can figure out why Mrs. Fontana gave it to her. She hops on his back and they fly (obviously) to a secret clearing in the woods. It's winter but in this magical clearing there is no snow, just flowers and fireflies. They take a look at what is in the box: a book called The Secret of the Unicorns (so meta), a star pendant, and an ancient scroll. The scroll says that the owner of the box was chosen to help the unicorns and their friends. Laura starts freaking out that she is the owner of the box and therefore needs to be a guardian or keeper of the unicorns and their friends. Apparently she is feeling insecure about this despite the fact that she knows magical spells and can read unicorn minds?! Then she notices something weird about the bottom of the box and sees that it has a false bottom! More objects are revealed: a flat stone, another scroll, another old book, and five small bottles each with a different color and shape. So now she has a bunch more goodies and has no clue what they're for so she proceeds to become sad and upset that Mrs. Fontana is not there to explain it all to her. After her tantrum, Star Tail calmly explains to her, like any rational unicorn would, that Mrs. Fontana chose Laura and that she is the right one for the job so she should chill out. He is a very understanding unicorn and vows to help her. Then, all of a sudden, another unicorn appears in the sky and is headed right towards Laura!
I hate to leave you hanging like that but you'll have to wait another million years until I've finished translating/reading chapter 2 to know what happens next! Will Laura stop freaking and just chill out about the scrolls already? Will Star Tail get fed up with Laura's defeatist attitude and throw in his unicorn towel? Will this other unicorn that is flying straight towards them have something to say about the objects in the box or does it just need to ask for directions to a different magical clearing? Stay tuned to find out!
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