Conflict may be difficult, but ignoring it only heightens the tension. Take the case of Perfectly Pegasus and Donut: The Unicorn Who Wants to Fly. When two delightful picture books with magical horse protagonists which share themes of aspiration, discovery, and friendship are published within a week of each other, conflict is inevitable. Which of these two books is the finer story?
I know. If this conflict were itself the subject of a picture book, the two competing books would end up, after some misunderstanding and tribulation, as best friends. This is the real world, however, and books about magical young equines are in no position to eschew competition for a higher sphere of understanding.
One difference between these two books is obvious. Nimbus, the Pegasus, is a flying horse while Donut is a wingless unicorn who is determined to fly. Nimbus is lonely and seeks to fill an emptiness in their otherwise happy life, without understanding clearly what is missing. Donut, on the other hand, has a distinct want and is focused and goal-driven.
The tale of Nimbus is one of discovery, awakening, and ultimately of friendship. Companionship fills the emptiness that solitude had entailed. The tale of Donut is one of determination and innovation in which friendship and collaboration actively realize our unicorn’s resolute quest for flight. Nimbus’ Narwhal, unicorn, and turtle friends did not help Nimbus fulfill her quest to find a falling star to wish upon. They are an epiphany, a wish fulfilled by simply being who they were. Donut’s friends, the birds, rabbits and mice of the meadow, are transformational agents who work together and fly together in the basket they wove and power.
In Perfectly Pegasus, it is Nimbus who is surprised by a discovery readers have been waiting for her to find. In Donut, readers are surprised by a discovery unforeseen in the narrative. Nimbus is adorable. Donut is funny. Nimbus can fly effortlessly. Donut’s flight is a hard-won triumph of personal fortitude and community. Perfectly Pegasus is a heartwarming and wonderful picture book. Donut is our champion.