Title: The Creature of the Pines
By: Adam Gidwitz
Call #: J Gidwitz. A
Here is a fun series written for readers who’ve enjoyed Magic Tree House but are ready for a little more depth to their stories.
Two kids in NJ find a magical creature (The Jersey Devil of myth and legend) while on a field trip to the Pine Barrens which leads to their induction into a secret society for the preservation of magical creatures. Despite the breezy and humorous tone of most of the story, there is unexpected depth to the narrative: a guest teacher explains the Pine Barrens were a melting pot of runaway slaves, Quakers, and loyalists during the Revolutionary War. Uchenna’s father is from Lagos, Nigeria and it looks like the rest of the books will leave New Jersey for a world tour! Although the lead characters follow the trope of nervous boy and the spunky girl, Elliot and Uchenna’s chemistry is stronger than you’d expect in a chapter book. The Basque Dragon, Book #2 of the Unicorn Rescue Society, has just been published (7/10/18). Check out this series for your adventurous and curious chapter book reader.
If your child is a reluctant reader, the author, Adam Gidwitz, has teamed with a production company to create some great teaser videos — including an animated Uchenna and Elliot — and their Jersey Devil. It is a great way to get kids excited about reading the books. Mr. Gidwitz won a Newbery Honor last year for The Inquisitor’s Tale.