The Madre de Aguas of Cuba

Dutton. (The Unicorn Rescue Society: Bk. 5). May 2020. 224p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780735231429.
Gr 2-5–A sensitive and informative story wrapped up in a magical mystery adventure. Gidwitz has teamed up with Emma Otheguy to write this new installment of “The Unicorn Rescue Society” series. Uchenna, Elliot, and Professor Fauna are members of a secret group that protects mythical creatures, and this time they travel to Cuba to find the Madre de Aguas, a sea serpent that protects the water supply of the island and surrounding area. She may even control the weather, and there has been an ongoing drought in Cuba. Rounded out with an evil corporation polluting the water for their own gain, this story feels like an old Scooby-Doo mystery in the best way. The details of the scenes set in Cuba are written sensitively while not glossing over the fraught history of the country. The scenes with Yoenis’ mother are especially well drawn. However, readers would benefit from familiarity with previous installments; the characters’ personalities do not shine through enough for a casual reader to feel invested in the story without the background knowledge of the other books.
VERDICT Short, simple, magical fun that has something to say about the contemporary world. Highly recommended where the earlier books are popular.

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