One Lonely Unicorn (English) Written by Meenakshi Bharadwaj; Illustrated by Sonali Biswas Published by Katha, New Delhi Year of Publication 2004 Price Rs. 95 The best way to learn is when you are having fun, was obviously the concept when Meenakshi Bharadwaj wrote One lonely Unicorn- a counting book with a difference. The objective was god but somehow looking at the woods, she missed the trees. The age when children start learning to count is around two or even say three but the words which have been used are not for the children for whom English is a second language, specially when they are just learning the vocabulary. And that brings the glaring grammatical mistakes to mind. The story reads. "At last one day, Two head Bird said,’ Since you won’t tell us your story, we are going away!" And off they flew". Any discerning reader will note that it’s two-headed and not two-head and if it’s a single bird then it should not be off they flew but should be off it flew. And if its more than one bird then the plural form i.e. birds should have been used. This oversight by both writer and the editors is unfortunate because story in itself is good and very subtly brings out the moral of good friendship and how the company of concerned friends drives away the blues of loneliness. Like sunshine the story infuses the reader with happiness and no longer like the Unicorn do we feel sad and lonely as we tend to do when no one is around. Lots of thinking and creativity has gone into the illustrations on each page of the book. The illustrator Sonali Biswas has really done a great job. The collage and drawings are not only attractively colourful but appropriate too.
Though the setting of the story is night yet there is no drab darkness. Instead it is depicted as a cheerful starlit night and beautiful animals. The printing quality and the glossy pages can meet the international standard competently and there seems to be nothing wanting in that direction. There is no doubt that it is indeed an innovative way to teach the children to count as usually its in form of nursery rhymes but one wishes that little more imagination would have gone into writing it. It is in fact a splendidly illustrated book and the award for illustration is truly deserved. The moral of the story is very relevant in this era when our children see nothing but violence around them. Having the book in hand is a joy. The poem reminds one of learning to count b singing One Two buckle your shoe, three four, open the door and like that I am sure kids would be taking "six high jumps, six long jumps 6 and 7,8,9 10 She lands with bumchiki-bumps!". Similarly the game 2- Finger Play – a creative activity would be found entertaining instruction tool both by teachers (parents) the taught. A class full of toddlers following finger play would be fun as the author herself says in the book. It’s a book, which will do any bookshelf proud.