"... because you can never tell where an odd bit of magic is going to turn up..."
East London of the 1950s. A working class community suffering to make ends meet through a wanting economy and a time of changes in the ways technology altered the means by which consumable goods were produced. One neighborhood where many workers worry about how necessary they are to current times as milliners, trouser makers, coat makers and like skilled workers in the garment trade, is about to be touched with a little magic.
Six-year-old Joe buys (with some assistance from his elderly friend Mr. Kandinsky) a unicorn. That it looks suspiciously like a one horned pygmy goat to most adults is beside the fact, and an opinion from which its young owner is shielded. Joe hopes that this magical creature is there to fulfill the wishes of those he loves. Mr. Kandinsky wants a steam press to make his pants business competitive again. His apprentice, Shmule, wants to win his wrestling matches so that he might be able to afford an engagement ring for his long-suffering fiancee of two years. Joe and his mother both dream of having the means to join Joe's father in Africa. Small but meaningful desires.
A Kid For Two Farthings by Wolf Mankowitz is more novella than novel, in large type and occupying only 128 pages, but like the other titles in The Bloomsbury Group offerings, there is lightness to be celebrated amidst what could always potentially descend into peril. Hope. Love. Charm. And small reminders of the things in life that truly have meaning, substance. What is most lovely in this short work is that the adults quietly conspire to protect Joe's innocence, his childhood, by allowing, even encouraging, Joe to believe in his unicorn Africana, and all the magic he knows it to hold. Will not reveal more than this. It is a very short work after all, and we need to leave something for you to discover on your own, right?
Now the question is, who is up for a little magical discovery? Bloomsbury US has graciously provided 5 contest copies for readers here. US and Canada residents only this time. Just leave a comment below by end of day Sunday, and my children will select five winners to be announced Monday. Good luck everyone!