Unicorn Power!Mariko Tamaki
Publisher’s note: This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cataloging-in-publication data has been applied for and may be obtained from the Library of Congress.
Text and illustrations copyright © 2017 BOOM! Studios
Book design by Chad W. Beckerman
Lumberjanes created by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson & Brooklyn Allen.
Lumberjanes TM and © 2017 Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson & Brooklyn Allen. All rights reserved.
Published in 2017 by Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams.
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LIVING THE PLANT LIFE BADGE
“Herbivores eat shoots and lots o’ leaves.”
Among the many things that Lumberjanes love, the great outdoors is pretty tops on the list. Not surprising, as the great outdoors, so named because it is really, really great, is full of so many things for Lumberjanes to learn about and enjoy. Majestic forests, roaring streams, towering mountains—all make up the splendor of the natural world. But also included in the natural world are many smaller wonders: toadstools, caterpillars, lichen, and moss, to name just a few.
A Lumberjane must learn to appreciate and understand, and ultimately protect, all the parts of the natural world. Take, for example, the multitudes of plants that live and grow in the forest, plants that make oxygen, that feed the forest in numerous ways. The forest is rich with plants that, if you are paying close attention . . .
It was a gorgeous day. In the woods just outside Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul* Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types, the trees stood tall, reaching their branches up to the sky in a long, peaceful, never-ending stretch. The sun shone through the whispering leaves, scattering little pieces of light over the forest floor like a woodland disco.
It was a perfect day to be a Lumberjane, frankly, because every day, if you use it right, is a perfect day to be a Lumberjane. Because Lumberjanes are awesome: dedicated to friendship, learning, curiosity, and caring, to jumping into adventure with full hearts.
On this particular day, five Lumberjanes—the members of Roanoke cabin—wandered through the forest intent on making day all kinds of wicked cool.
There was April, the redhead skipping ahead with a look of determination and her ever-present notebook tucked under her arm. April was small but mighty, embodying a distinct April-like ferocity, a certain April-esque drive, as anyone who had ever arm-wrestled with her would know.
There was Jo, walking tall with long, steady strides. Jo always had a multi-tool tucked in her pocket and a serious look on her long face. Sometimes when Jo looked at the world, she saw all these little numbers and calculations in her head, little bits of how she knew the world worked.
There was Mal, who could play guitar and was also the best hide-and-seek and capture-the-flag player ever. Mal was a master strategist and also usually the first person to notice when something was weird. Also she hated bodies of water. Hated. Bodies. Of water.
As they walked through the woods, Mal held hands with Molly.
Molly was the only person in her cabin with her own personal raccoon hat, which was actually a raccoon named Bubbles. Molly had sunny blonde hair she kept in a braid, and a gentle voice. Molly was pretty good at spotting the best in the people around her, although sometimes she had trouble doing that for herself.
Bouncing somewhere around the back of the group was Ripley, the blue streak in her hair swinging in front of her eyes. Ripley, incidentally, gave the best hugs, and when she liked things, liked them A LOT.
“Right!” April flipped her notebook open to her checklist. “So far, we’ve got three types of moss . . .”
“Cushion, haircap, and mood.” Jo ticked them off on her fingers.
“Hairy mood cushion moss!” Ripley chuckled, bouncing between trees. “Moody hair cushion moss!”
“Three types of vines,” April continued.
“Trumpet, honeysuckle, and Clematis tangutica,” Jo added, carefully enunciating TAN-GUT-TIC-AHHHH.
April tapped her pencil on her notepad. “Perfect! We just need one more flowering plant and . . . we’ve got our LIVING THE PLANT LIFE badges!”
The Living the Plant Life badge was the ultimate all-encompassing super-nerdy greenery-loving badge. It was going to look great on April’s already crowded badge sash, which contained badges for lovers of sailing, hiking, running, and punning. As well as many other things. Maybe she would even need to get another sash. THE DREAM! DOUBLE SASH!
April sighed contentedly. Everything was going according to plan.
“There’s more sun in the clearing up ahead,” Jo said, pointing. “Maybe we’ll find something flower-like there.”
“YIPPEE!” Ripley cartwheeled ahead and the rest of the scouts followed.
“I love that one of the flowers was called a beardtongue,” Molly said. “Whoever gets to name plants has the best job ever.”
“I think if it’s called a beardtongue, it should LOOK like a tongue,” Mal noted. “Or a beard.” Beardtongue looked more like red trumpets than beards.
“Maybe it’s a metaphor,” Molly offered.
“A metaphor for what?” Mal laughed.
The girls came to a stop in the clearing.
Ripley hopped over to a giant tree covered in bumpy fungus. “YO! These mushrooms look like noses,” she said, peering at the rubbery fungi dotting the tree trunk.
Molly turned and noticed a small green plant curled up next to Mal’s toe. “Watch out! Poison ivy!”
“WHAT?” Mal shot up like she’d been electrocuted. She shook her foot violently.
“Hey,” April said, looking up from the spot where she’d been poking around for flowers, “if it was Valentine’s Day, we’d be looking for a willyoube vine! Right? Get it?”
Another thing about April: Few people liked puns as much as she did.
Mal continued to take a series of tiny steps away from the potential poison ivy, keeping a watchful eye on the bright green menace. You know, just in case it made a move.
Jo was bent forward, in deep tractor-beam-level concentration as she peered through the lens of her new invention, the Micro-Focus Lens. The pink and green leaves of the plant on the other side of the lens twisted into view. People who look at things as closely as Jo did often know that they’re rarely only what they appear to be at first glance. In this case, what looked like a shiny, smooth leaf to the naked eye was spiky under the lens, a sea of interlocked scales with sharp pointed edges like a lizard’s back.
Jo squinted and pressed her lips together in determination as she twisted the dial next to the lens to try and get a better view. The leaf clicked into a higher resolution, but then went fuzzy again. Something was affecting the magnification. Jo sighed. Invention requires t
rial and error, which means when you invent something, the only way to know if it works is to test it. Sometimes this process takes a very long time.
Jo knew this, in part, because one of Jo’s dads (she had two) invented a rocket. It took him 1,034 tries. That’s a lot of tries. All the rockets were named Diana after Diana Ross, because her dad said Diana Ross had a unique star quality.
Jo wondered if the workshop back at camp, where she could frequently be found rummaging for parts or throwing up sparks with the welding equipment, had the parts she needed. Momentarily, she wished she had access to the extravagant lab her dads had set up for her at home.
Maybe she could take apart her fancy phone and use some of the circuitry from that . . .
A few feet away from Jo, April nibbled on the pencil gripped between her teeth, her brow furrowed in resolve as she scanned the forest floor for a speck of something other than green.
Nestled in among a patch of fluffy ferns was a tiny blue flower with diamond-shaped petals.
Reaching into her back pocket, April pulled out her Lumberjanes Flora and Fauna Guide. The book was old and squished, probably because it had been crushed into so many pockets over the years. The spine was cracked and taped and taped again. The corners were worn and stained with streaks of grass green.
April thumbed through the pages. “Chrysanthemum? Crocus?”
She flipped the page and a small square of paper came loose and fluttered into her hand. It was a faded sketch of a blue flower with . . . hey! . . . diamond-shaped petals! Under the drawing someone had written, in delicate cursive, “Clow Bell.”
On the edge of the paper, in the same delicate text: “Previously sited and not recorded, but here noted as new, a very curious plant. Edible? Maybe. Credible? Yes. Celestial? . . .”
“Hey, guys!” April called out, waving the picture. “GUYS! CLOWBELL!” she cried, triumphant.
At the exact same time, Ripley, shooting up into the air and pointing over April’s shoulder, screamed probably one of the top ten words a person can possibly scream.
* Pronounced Penny-quee-quellle
What Ripley actually said would probably be better translated as “UUUUUUNNNNNIIIIICOOOORRRRRNNNNN!!!!!”
Because from the instant the first vowel left her lips, Ripley was already zooming after the unicorn as it darted off with a flick of its sparkly purple tail.
When she was really, really excited, Ripley could hit the speed of a thousand Ripleys, which is very, very fast.
At this moment, Ripley was very very very excited. And so very very very fast.
Of course, wouldn’t you run superfast if you’d loved unicorns your whole life and even had your OWN (stuffed) unicorn called Mr. Sparkles and then you saw AN ACTUAL unicorn running through the forest?
I think so.
The rest of Roanoke cabin took a(nother) moment to assess the situation.
“Ah,” Jo said.
“Ah!” Molly agreed.
“Unicorn!” Mal gasped.
“Ripley!” April cried.
With that settled, the rest of the Lumberjanes were in hot pursuit.
The number one rule of being a Lumberjane: Lumberjanes stick together!
Of the many things there are to know about unicorns, which is a lot, one relatively vital fact is that unicorns, when they’re moving on the ground, enjoy taking a serpentine, or twisty-turny, route.
No unicorn has been able to explain why this is; it’s just something they do.
April, who took the lead in the unicorn-and-Ripley pursuit, had spent some time as a kid reading books about unicorn adventures. Some of her favorites included Harvey the Amazing Unicorn and His Unicorn Friends, Unicorns on Ice, Just Enough Unicorns, and the less popular but still riveting Unicorns Go to the Beach.
(April’s notebook contained several pages of detailed notes on various creatures the members of Roanoke cabin had encountered so far during their amazing adventures. The unicorn section was a little thin, though, as this was Roanoke’s first unicorn sighting!
How exciting is that!?)
April’s readings did not actually say anything about how to chase a unicorn, but April was a quick study.
“ZIGZAG,” she hollered back to the other Lumberjanes, raising one arm and jerking it back and forth. “It’s running in a ZIG! ZAG!”
Jo glanced down and noticed that the unicorn wasn’t leaving any hoofprints on the ground. Not even in the dainty layer of cushion moss that covered the rocks they stepped on to cross the creek.
“Interesting,” Jo said.
The raccoon, Bubbles, who had been sleeping peacefully on Molly’s head, was now very awake. The breeze rippled through his fur as he clung for dear life to the top of Molly’s head while she raced after Jo who was chasing after April who was in hot pursuit of Ripley who was tailing a unicorn. Bubbles chirped a curious chirp, like, “Where are we going and why are we going so fast?”
As Mal sprinted through the trees behind the others, she looked up at the sky. She wondered exactly where it was they were going, while noticing that the trees of the new forest they were running through were thicker and puffier, like green storm clouds. The thought slipped into her head, like a thread through a needle, that Jen, their camp counselor, who was prone to worrying about them, might be wondering where they were right about now.
“Hey,” she hollered, “should we b—” Mal looked forward again and noticed everyone had stopped running. “YEAGH!”
YEAGH isn’t a word, but a sound that basically translates to, “Wow, I wish I had known we were stopping.”
It is very hard to go from traveling at superfast breakneck speed to a dead halt. Which is why Mal crashed into Molly crashed into Jo crashed into April.
By the last WHAAAH, they had all stopped. If by “stopped” we mean “crashed into each other.”
“Our mass-sprinting technique needs immediate and drastic improvement,” April groaned, crawling out from the bottom of the pile of Lumberjanes.
“We need to come up with a stopping technique,” Jo added, brushing pine needles off her hoodie.
“Yes,” Molly sighed, brushing off Bubbles, who was now thoroughly coated in forest floor. “Let’s do that soon.”
Next to the heap of Roanoke cabin, Ripley, who had narrowly missed the big Roanoke pileup, was dancing a jig, her hand clasped over her mouth.
“Look! Look! Look!” she squealed gleefully through her fingertips. “The unicorn! He’s munching!”
“AWWWWW!” cooed the Lumberjanes in chorus, starry eyed.
“Now that,” April said, “is positively adorable.”
Because AW! Come on! What could be cuter than a unicorn standing, placid, which is to say, calm, in a small clearing in the trees, daintily snacking on what April now knew to be a Clow Bell?
Very little comes to mind.
From a few feet away, the Lumberjanes could see that the unicorn’s tail and mane weren’t just purple but a mix of every purple-like color (violet, maroon, lavender, and indigo), combined with spun gold. The rest of his coat was a soft, pearlescent shade of gray, with spots of white on his hindquarters. His horn was silver.
April straightened the white bow that was keeping her red curls, now full of leaves, off her face. “Okay, so we have a unicorn and a Ripley. So now we just need to . . .” April paused and twitched her button nose.
“Huh.” Jo sniffed the air, the hood of her hoodie still full of pine needles.
“Ummm,” Mal noted, making sure all her earrings and nose rings were still in place, “do you guys smell that?”
The rest of the cabin lifted their noses to the wind, which was blowing in from the unicorn’s direction. All five girls simult
aneously clamped their hands over their noses.
“WHOA!” They all agreed in unison. Because. WHOA.
“Is that smell . . . UNICORN?” April said in the nasal tone necessary when you are speaking with your hand on your nose.
“That is bad,” Molly said.
“It’s flagrantly noxious,” April said.
Mal agreed. “It’s bad with sprinkles on top.”
REALLY. REALLY. REALLY BAD.
“So. Unicorns smell like armpits and anchovies,” Jo said. “That’s unexpected.”
“But then again,” Molly added, with a smile mostly covered by her hand, “it seems kind of expectedly unexpected.”
Mal grinned. Because Molly was right—the unexpected happens all the time when you’re a Lumberjane.
April pulled out her notebook and flipped through her notes. “And undocumented,” she added, making a note so it WOULD be.
Ripley, taking the smallest, tiptoe steps, moved toward the unicorn. “Hey there,” she said, in a bedtime-story type of voice, “my name is Ripley and I promise I won’t do anything to hurt you ever, ever, ever.”
The unicorn looked up from munching and appeared to take in his surroundings. He looked left and right and then at Ripley, who continued her careful steps. He let out a small, twinkly neigh.
Ripley stepped up to the unicorn, hands held out, palms up, as a sign that she was a safe creature. The unicorn touched his velvety nose to Ripley’s outstretched hand. Ripley’s heart felt like it was going to burst with a great big PLURT!
“Contact,” April whispered to Jo with a grin.
Ripley, her hand pressed against the unicorn’s neck, turned back to the rest of the cabin, her face twisted into a worried frown. “Hey,” she said, “I think he’s LOST.”
April looked at the unicorn, which looked back at April with an expression that was difficult to decipher, because unicorns, like buffalo, ferrets, and horses (not surprisingly), can be hard to read. Still, April put her hands on her hips. She knew exactly what to do next.