I suspect the main reason most of us who grew up with the Rankin Bass animation of The Last Unicorn still remember it so well, is because even when presented for children, the themes in it speak to us as adults. The further I get into the book (page 80 as of this post), the clearer that gets.
Granted, I wouldn’t show the animation to young children today, because the young children in my life are easily scared and, well, that harpy, you know. It really depends on the child. I’ve also had younger cousins get really bored with the kinds of things I used to watch as a kid, so it can go both ways.
But the way the book is written would have gone over my younger head entirely. 30-something Schmendrick still hoping he can be a real magician after all that time wouldn’t have spoken to me. Molly Grue saying that of course, it’s only the last unicorn in the world who would appear to Molly Grue, wouldn’t make me feel very sad. The spider who’s convinced of being Arachne and can’t/doesn’t want to give up the illusion when all the other caged animals are freed of theirs, well, I just wouldn’t have got that back in the day.
Despite looking like such a small book, everything seems more in-depth.
I just have to be careful with this copy, though. That autograph doesn’t read “To Dylan” for good reason.