The Unicorn Rescue Society: The Creature of the Pines by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly, 192pp, RL 3
Hooray! The Unicorn Rescue Society is a new series of fantasy books perfect for independent readers ready to move up from chapter books but not quite ready to the weightier fantasy tomes and series that fill the shelves. And, it gets better! This series is written by a master of the genre, Adam Gidwitz of A Tale Dark and Grimm Trilogy and The Inquisitor's Tale fame and illustrated by Hatem Aly. And, as if it couldn't get any better, this new series, The Unicorn Rescue Society, is about one of my favorite things - cryptids! And, as the title page notes, this series was created by Gidwitz, his childhood friend Jesse Casey, and Casey's longtime friend and partner in the creative production company Mixtape Club, Chris Smith.
Elliot Eisner is the new kid in town and at school, anxious about starting after the school year has already begun - and on the day of a field trip! On the bus, he meets Uchenna Devereaux and they become fast friends. And on the bus, they (and the rest of the class) are introduced to Professor Mito Fauna from Peru, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (with a specialty in large and rare species) AND a Doctor of Philosophy (with a speciality in global mythology) who will be guiding them on the field trip to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.
Pine Barrens is where Elliot and Uchenna stumble across a baby Jersey Devil and are taken to meet Dr. Thomas, an elderly woman who, says she thinks of herself as "a mix of every race, every people in New Jersey. I'm like a medley - a bunch of different songs, all flowing together." Detailing her lineage for the children, her story wanders through American history as it passes through the Pines, from the Lenni-Lenape Indian tribe to the Quakers to the Underground Railroad. As they are boarding the school bus to return to school, Elliot and Uchenna notice the little Jersey Devil, which is invisible in the shade and visible in sunlight, following them. Uchenna tucks it into her backpack and, the minute they get back to school, they lose it.
Enlisting the help of Professor Fauna, the trio find themselves in the enormous greenhouse of the greedy, billionaire Schmoke Brothers where they manage to scoop up the baby cryptid and escape. Back at his office, the Professor reluctantly reveals to the children that he is part of the Unicorn Rescue Society, a group dedicated to protecting "creatures that science refuses to recognize," especially now that they have enemies like the Schmoke brothers. And, they need the help of Elliot and Uchenna. Of course they agree!
Coming July 10! Book 2!
Source: Review Copy