Unicorn Island

Andrews McMeel. (Unicorn Island: Bk. 1). Feb. 2021. 224p. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9781524864705.
Gr 3-7–Just as Samantha is feeling settled in her Brooklyn apartment, her mom reveals she has a two-month job in Europe and Sam will be spending the summer with her uncle Mitch in their ancient family home in Foggy Harbor, SC. Uncle Mitch is a seemingly cold and distant boatbuilder who has lived alone since his wife disappeared when Sam was young. Mitch was furious to find Sam and her new friend, Tuck, in his secret basement holding the twisted gray horns and Fog Clock that he and all the fog keepers before him guarded. Then Uncle Mitch disappears across the bay, toward a mysterious island Sam is sure she saw as the fog lifted. The next day, they take Tuck’s boat and row into the fog; they are surprised to discover an island guarded by a wyvern (dragon with two legs who breathes frost) called Verny. Sam is immediately able to communicate with Verny, and the two find Mitch looking after a sick newborn unicorn named Barloc. Their only hope is to rush Barloc to Tuck’s mom, who is a veterinarian back in Foggy Harbor. A bit of modern science and some unicorn’s luck yields a fast recovery for Barloc. But with an unraveling family mystery and a hint that Sam may be a Fog Keeper in training, readers learn the unicorns are not totally out of danger as the book ends. Warm, colorful artwork is included throughout, and illustrated histories of unicorns, wyverns, veterinarians, pirates, and the wild horses of Ocracoke append the story.
VERDICT What begins as realistic fiction turns to a fantastical tale of magical rescue. Fans of unicorns and magic in the real world will enjoy this adventure.

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