This fast-paced fairytale first installment for the younger portion of middle graders is as smart as it is funny. Note for homeschoolers- there’s some Latin! Professor Fauna taking Elliot and Uchenna’s class on a trip to the New Jersey Pine Barrens. They meet Dr. Griselle Thomas, the old lady who lives in the middle of the Pine Barrens. She talks about the history and the flora and fauna of the Barrens and it sounds magical. We don’t find out about the Unicorn Rescue Society until the end of the book, which makes this one long setup. It’s so good though- I didn’t mind a bit.
Favorite quote: “The professor fixed Miss Vole with a dark stare. ‘Children, your teacher is one of those ignorant people who believe that just because something is a myth, it cannot also be true. I have decided that you should not listen to your teacher.'” page 75
I am known to be a bit dry and sarcastic, and reading that tone in a book for younger readers warms my heart. There’s real science mixed with cryptozoology. Adults are not dumbed down as they sometimes are in this kind of “kids are the real heroes” plot, and the whole story just rolls right along until you as the reader believes in unicorns too. Book two is scheduled for this Summer so young readers won’t have long to wait to find out what happens next.
April 10, 2018
Adam Gidwitz, Hatem Aly (Illustrated by)
Other books by Adam that we love that somehow I haven’t reviewed: A Tale Dark and Grimm (the series) and The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog