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“Danger is the greatest teacher,” Professor Fauna. —The Unicorn Rescue Society
The Creature of the Pines
The Unicorn Rescue Society #1
by Adam Gidwitz
AR Test, Diverse Characters
Elliot isn’t excited about starting a new school three weeks after the school year began. To make matters worse, his class is going on a field trip to the Pine Barrens, a potentially dangerous, creepy forest. The field trip is being led by Professor Fauna, a strange man who is rumored to be unhinged from reality.
Uchenna is the only person who will talk to Elliot. Unlike Elliot, she is adventurous and fearless. When Uchenna goes into the forbidden forest, will Elliot be brave enough to follow? When the two meet a Creature of the Pines, will the two survive?
Right from the start, Elliot and the other characters jump off the pages. The frightening Professor Fauna adds mystery, possible danger, and suspense. The diverse, interesting characters will pull the reader into this fast-paced mystery. The vivid descriptions and well-developed characters join together to create a suspenseful mystery that readers will not want to put down. Elliot, a fearful boy who has the tendency to overthink situations and Uchenna, an adventurous, fearless girl, make a fun pair as they join together to help a Jersey Devil that they find in the woods.
The Creature of the Pines has adventure, danger, and a mythical creature with magical powers. Black-and-white illustrations are scattered throughout the book; the illustrations add humor as well as help readers visualize the characters. The text is easy to read because it uses short paragraphs, simple vocabulary, and dialogue. Although the creature makes an exciting appearance, more information about the interesting creature could have been incorporated into the story. The Creature of the Pines will delight readers who are interested in a character-driven adventure.
- While trying to find the Jersey Devil, Elliot and Uchenna go into someone’s greenhouse. “Phipps, the butler, had crept around them, and at that instant, he grabbed Elliot’s arms.” The Jersey Devil jumps onto the butler’s face and Uchenna “spun and punched Phipps in the stomach. She was only a kid, so she couldn’t punch very hard. But she did double Phipps over.” The kids are able to escape.
Drugs and Alcohol
- One of the characters said, “You’re darn right!”
- According to a family’s legend, Beulah (a distant relative) had twelve children. After she delivered child number twelve, she told someone, “I won’t be having any more children. I’d rather have the devil than have another child.” When she gave birth to the next child, the “baby wasn’t a baby at all. It was a strange creature, and it went screeching out of Beulah’s arms and straight through the window, leaving shattered glass all over. . . Ever since then, the Jersey Devil roams these pines.”