I usually like to study a book when I first pick it up off of the book store shelf. I read the back first, ponder the cover art, then open to Page 1 and skim a few pages. In 1984, I found "Ariel" in my favorite bookstore, began my ritual, and ended up sitting on the floor for 1 hour, completely and utterly entranced. I was captivated by the very first sentence: "I was bathing in a lake when I saw the unicorn."
Mr. Boyett's imagination hits stratospheric heights in his storytelling. His words paint a portrait so vivid that I feel like I'm right there beside Pete, traipsing all the way up I-95 and swimming with the dolphins on the way to New York. My teenage bedroom became a fantasy haven in its honor, and a huge stuffed unicorn (named Ariel, of course) dominated my bed.
The stuffed unicorn is long gone, but I still have that copy of "Ariel," and it's now as delapidated as Pete's backpack - taped, wrinkled, tattered, and laminated. And I wouldn't trade it or get rid of it for anything. I get it out every now and then and re-immerse myself in it, just for old time's sake.
If you are lucky enough to get a copy of this book, count it amongst your finest treasures - for a treasure it certainly is. I'll never understand why it's out of print. This is one story that should be back on the shelves for other readers to sit with on the bookstore floors of the world.