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The Unicorn Rescue Society #1

The Creature of the Pines

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Unicorns are real. (At least we think they are.)

Are you ready to protect the creatures of myth and legend? Then you belong in The Unicorn Rescue Society. HURRY! THE CREATURES NEED YOU!

Elliot Eisner isn't exactly thrilled with the first day at his new school. His class is going on a field trip to a creepy forest called the Pine Barrens. The trip is being led by Professor Fauna, the weirdest teacher Elliot has ever met. And the only kid who will talk to Elliot, Uchenna Devereaux, isn't afraid of danger. She likes danger.

Elliot and Uchenna are about to become part of a secret group of adventurers, The Unicorn Rescue Society, whose goal is to protect and defend the world's mythical creatures. Together with Professor Fauna, Elliot and Uchenna must help rescue a Jersey Devil from a duo of conniving, greedy billionaires, the Schmoke Brothers.

176 pages, Hardcover

First published April 10, 2018

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About the author

Adam Gidwitz

23 books1,048 followers
To read my bio and learn more about me, and find a FAQ, visit:
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5 stars
479 (26%)
4 stars
763 (42%)
3 stars
469 (26%)
2 stars
61 (3%)
1 star
15 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 338 reviews
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,014 reviews97 followers
July 19, 2018
You can also see my review @ https://readrantrockandroll.com/2018/...

Elliot is the new kid at school and very nervous about making friends, until he meets Uchenna. They have some things in common and become friends right away. On the bus they meet Professor Fauna, a scary looking man who will be their guide on their field trip to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Professor Fauna warns them of the many dangers at the Pine Barrens.

"The Pine Barrens is not a safe place," the professor intoned, his voice echoing over the gloomy path. "Many dangers are here. There are bears and coyotes and bobcats."

On the tour they discover a swamp with carnivorous plants and other forest life. All of a sudden, Elliot and Uchenna hear some strange sounds coming from the woods and Uchenna is too inquisitive to not find the source. Elliot heads in after her and discovers one of the strangest creatures he's ever seen. Can Elliot and Uchenna help rescue this beastly, magical creature? Soon they discover The Unicorn Rescue Society and learn that Professor Fauna may not be as scary as he looks.

We read A Tale Dark and Grimm a few years ago and when we saw that Adam Gidwitz came out with a new series titled The Unicorn Rescue Society, we were super psyched! I ended up reading this with my kids and I think I enjoyed it as much as they did, finding it humorous and educational.

We loved the characters! Elliot loves reading; he's intelligent and shy, whereas Uchenna loves music and she's super fun and brave. They form a wonderful friendship and must find a way to protect the magical creature they've discovered. The plot is interesting and we loved the illustrations as well.

Overall, this was a fun read. We already ordered The Basque Dragon--the second in the series--and can't wait to start it.  5***** to The Creature of the Pines!
Profile Image for Mir.
4,781 reviews4,987 followers
December 16, 2019
This is definitely for younger readers than I usually get books for, that level where they make the print larger, but a little too advanced for my niece who is in Kindergarten, there are some advanced words like "melange" and she hasn't learned about the Eastern states yet and she isn't into unicorns, of which the book has none in any case -- why do have I have this book? I don't know. It wasn't on my to-read list and I don't recall ordering it. It just appeared, like a small blue Jersey Devil appearing at a window in search of a healthy snack.

It was a fine book. I read it before bed. The story did not trouble me, nor did the font strain my eyes. I probably would have given it 4 stars (keeping in mind the intended audience) but it sort of fizzled as it neared the end. The bad* guys are barely introduced before they have been escaped, there is no climax, it's just set up for a series.


*We only know they are Bad because 1) they are portrayed as unappealing and 2) the cliched crazy-professor type says so. In fact, they seem pretty measured for people who are having their house broken into by the other characters. I'm sure they will prove to have an evil plan later, though. I probably won't read about.
Profile Image for Mary Ann.
1,478 reviews279 followers
May 10, 2018
Gidwitz has hit such a great balance between short, engaging chapters and a mystery that makes you want to learn more. I also love how intentionally inclusive he is with his storytelling. Full review here: Great Kid Books
Profile Image for James.
366 reviews12 followers
February 3, 2019
Read through with the kid. This is a fun new series for young middle grade readers, and my daughter loves it. I like that it has both facts about the natural world and the mythical. My daughter likes the humor and the fast paced dialogue, as well as the friendship between Elliot and Uchenna. Based on book 1, we've already ordered the next two in the series!
Profile Image for Ms. B.
2,798 reviews35 followers
November 25, 2020
It's Elliot first day at a new school. And what a memorable first day it is, a new friend, a class field trip and more. This is book 1 in a fun little series that introduces us to Elliot, Uchenna and Dr. Fauna, one of their teachers. Together, can they save mythical creatures like the Jersey blue devil that they discover in future installments?
Fans of Dan Gutman's My Wierd School series will want to read this one.
Profile Image for Jessica.
123 reviews20 followers
February 25, 2018
Unicorns are Real, and there are many dangerous things in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.

Elliot Eisner is nervously making his way through his first day of school, which happens to coincide with a field trip to the Pine Barrens. Fatefully he meets Uchenna Devereaux on the way and they begin a fabulous romp through both the Pine Barrens and their town.

I loved Elliot's nervous factual recitations, and Uchenna's guts, also her taste for red chuck taylors. Dr. Fauna is gloriously weird (do you think his beard is peppered, or striped like a skunk?), and I definitely need a regular sassafras tea date with Dr. Thomas.
This was a fantastic and engaging story, that tied modern ecology to cryptozoology in a roaring adventure. I can't wait to see what other antics these two get up to.
Profile Image for Jordan Henrichs.
285 reviews5 followers
March 19, 2018
My gut reaction was more of a 2-star rating, but I have never rated anything by Gidwitz less than 5 stars and the copy I read was an ARC. So, I'm rounding my gut reaction up to a 3.

The Creature of the Pines just felt so wimpy to me, almost lazy. From the characters, to the dialogue, to the plot. However, whenever I felt like I wanted more depth, I had to remind myself that the intended audience is much younger than that of Gidwitz's previous fare. Maybe this will work on the younger set. I trust that Gidwitz knows where he's going with future installments, but just wish this book would have had more of a purpose than kick-starting a series.
Profile Image for David.
Author 46 books976 followers
December 14, 2017
A fantastic start to an incredible new series! Witty, engaging, moving, all the good stuff.
Profile Image for Annie.
510 reviews8 followers
March 7, 2018
Highly entertaining, funny, fast-paced. Excellent early chapter book for confident young readers (there’s some Latin thrown in here, just for taxonomic purposes).
Profile Image for Mehsi.
11.5k reviews358 followers
June 24, 2020
New kid Elliot and Uchenna become fast friends and also quickly discover that the world they live in has mystical creatures!

I love Adam Gidwitz's books. He has a wonderful way of writing and his books always make me laugh. I am delighted that he started a new series this time featuring a Unicorn Rescue Society (though they have never seen any unicorns).

In this one our new kid Elliot finds out that the first day of his new school is starting of with a field trip to a forest not that far away. He quickly bonds with Uchenna (whose name I still don't know how to pronounce, sorry girl). As they get further in the woods they see and learn of things that lurk in the forest. I love it that they discover a mystical creature and that they help it out. Others would probably have run away... but these two? Go for it.

But it seems when they saved the creature... it attached itself to them. So now the kids got a very cute little monster with them. I loved the name they gave him (though they also have alternatives). The creature is written very creative and fun, and even without the illustrations I could imagine him so well. I had such a big laugh when we learn that that little monster is NOT amused by balloons. What follows is more adventures.

I liked both the characters, they were fun, adventurous and really complimented each other. Elliot had a lot of smarts, Uchenna was brave. I loved how they clicked together and how fast they became friends.

The professor was a weird person but also interesting. But at times also a bit annoying. I am not sure what it is, but something just didn't sit right for me. I would love to learn more about him and the society he and others run. I guess now the kids know about it all we will learn more in the next books. I cannot wait what more mystical creatures we will meet in the upcoming books.

The only reason why I am rating this one a bit lower is that it feels more like a prologue that is very long instead of a first book in a series. I am not sure how to explain it better, but that is how it felt for me. There are things happening, but it all just feels very introductory. And yes, it is the first book, but no first book ever really gave me a feel of being a prologue and had me constantly waiting for more.

The illustrations were OK. Not totally my fav, but I am still glad that they were added.

All in all, I will keep on reading this series in the hopes for more friendship and magical adventures.

Review first posted at https://twirlingbookprincess.com/
Profile Image for vanessa.
960 reviews151 followers
May 12, 2019
This was way more enjoyable than I initially anticipated. It's engaging, and fast-paced, and the characters are lovely. The dialogue between the kids and the way teachers and grown-ups are depicted has a lighthearted and amusing tone. I would definitely recommend to children who like reading adventure/action stories with magical creatures + who like books with great friendships.
June 4, 2019
I give it a 5 because I like unicorns and it was so interesting when Elliot and Uchenna went off to the woods and found the pine in the deep woods
Profile Image for Lizzy McGovern.
211 reviews6 followers
April 11, 2018
Loved this book! Gidwitz humor is right on the mark. This would be a great (funny) read aloud. Also I totally want Jersey Devil as a pet now. For readers who like a dose of myth in their adventures. Read alike for Pip Bartlett series and Imaginary Veterinary series.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,019 reviews17 followers
May 10, 2018
Humor, mythological creatures, and adventure! What a great combination for a new middle grade series by Adam Gidwitz. I’m confident this will be one my early middle grade readers will love. Looking forward to hearing what they think and to book 2!
Profile Image for Heidi.
2,615 reviews52 followers
May 14, 2018
I'm always on the lookout for fantasy/speculative books for middle grade readers that aren't really long and difficult. Not all readers are ready or able to take on Harry Potter or The Lightning Thief. So I was really interested when I heard about this series. And it didn't disappoint. With a couple of fun, but quite different characters combined with an unusual mentor and a delightful mythological creature at the heart of things, The Creature of the Pines works well for younger readers. The story is intriguing from the first when Elliot climbs on the school bus for the field trip on his first day of school and meets Uchenna Devereaux. She's the only person who looks remotely friendly, but her tendency to play musical instruments in the air is a little off putting. But their friendship is really cemented when they venture into the Pine Barrens with their class and stumble across a young Jersey Devil, the last thing they expected to find. And they certainly didn't intend to take the creature on the bus with them or accidentally turn in loose in the middle of the city. Professor Fauna seems to be the only one who can help, but he's a bit unusual himself and downright terrifying at times. This book makes for a fun read for reluctant readers who need some humor mixed in with their excitement and love the idea of magical creatures existing all around us.
Profile Image for Jim.
2,527 reviews131 followers
June 3, 2019
being many years past middle grade age i will try not to be too hash with my review... i loved Gidwitz's "A Tale Dark and Grimm" series fabulously, they were so funny and ceepy and action-packed and informative... this book did not do that for me, sadly... kinda cute, kinda funny, kinda interesting, kinda quirky... kinda average though too... just not enough depth to get swept up in it... again, i am old (surely MG age children would say that, and wonder how i'm not dead already!!), but i have been entranced and amazed by plenty of children's books, so it's not like i'm too jaded to see magic and wonder and imaginative storycraft... this one just wasn't for me, and i won't continue the series either... but i will keep an eye out for other books by Gidwitz, as i know he has talent and his next offering(s) may be just what i want...
19 reviews
November 18, 2020
My granddaughters and I really enjoyed this book. They are in 3rd and 5th grades and this book was great for all 3 of us to take turns reading aloud. It was a Book Box option from our public library. So there were several fun activities that went with it. We are looking forward to reading the next one.
Profile Image for Dan Rogers.
623 reviews13 followers
August 25, 2018
Fun enjoyable selection to read to my Grandchildren. Each time I would stop for the day they would plead for just one more chapter. They couldn’t get enough. Quality time and they’ve been kept in the edge if their seats with anticipation.
Profile Image for Sean Harding.
3,256 reviews20 followers
February 1, 2019
First book in another fantasy lite series complete with unicorns of course, hence the name of the series, is pretty forgettable stuff, and all very by the numbers average, some will like it, some will hate it, most will not remember it.
Profile Image for Beverly.
5,073 reviews4 followers
August 15, 2022
Fun story, with a fast-paced plot, but filled with stereotypical characters. That did not lessen my appreciation for the story, however. The children in the story do not find a unicorn, but they do find a different legendary creature, which they rescue.
Profile Image for Kristy.
888 reviews12 followers
April 9, 2018
I wanted more from this. I think maybe the first two books were originally one big book that was later split up into two shorter ones. To me, it takes too long for not many things to happen in this first installment.... hopefully it will get better!
Profile Image for Karen Arendt.
2,669 reviews11 followers
January 27, 2019
I enjoyed the voice and humor in this book. I was hesitant to read a unicorn book thinking it would not appeal to boys. This book has two diverse characters- a boy and a girl. The creature of the pines was also not a unicorn. This was a fun story with a scary professor and evil bad guys. I am looking forward to the sequel.
Profile Image for Victoria.
88 reviews
April 27, 2019
Very entertaining. All the characters are a delight. I especially life Doctor Doctor Fauna's Spanglish. Can't wait to see what happens in the rest of the series.
53 reviews
May 16, 2020
It was a really really really good book!📚📚📚📚📚📚📚
Profile Image for Barb Middleton.
1,603 reviews121 followers
February 4, 2021
Reminds me a bit of Sasquatch Escape and Fablehaven with a secret group that cares for mythical creatures, but easier to read.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 338 reviews

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