High Fantasy for Five-Year-Olds

We bought a copy of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn recently. The Rankin / Bass cartoon is one of the first movies I remember watching. Our five-year-old daughter was fascinated by the notion her parents were reading a book about unicorns. We have the cartoon, but I’m afraid it might be a little intense for her yet. Still, she has wanted me to read her excerpts and tell her about the story.

The following contains spoilers.

Daughter: Why is she the last unicorn?

Father: The others were kidnapped by a man named King Haggard.

Daughter: Why did he kidnap them?

Father: Well, he thought they would make him happy.

Daughter: Did they make him happy?

Father: For a while they did.

Daughter: But then they didn’t?

Father: Not really, no.

Daughter: Why?

Father: Well, he tried a lot of things to make him happy.

Daughter: And they didn’t?

Father: No.

Daughter: Why?

Father: Well… Some people have something called clinical depression.

Daughter: What’s that?

Father: That’s when, for some people, no matter what they do, they’re always going to be depressed. Sometimes, only medication can help. But a long time ago, they didn’t have medication. So people just stayed depressed.

Daughter: … Until someone invented medication?

Father: Yes.

Daughter: Did King Haggard get medication?

Father: No. He fell out of a tower.

Daughter: Why?

Father: Because sometimes, people with clinical depression fall out of towers.

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