The Secret of the Himalayas by Adam Gidwitz & Henna Khan, illustrated by Hatem Aly


The Secret of the Himalayas (Unicorn Rescue Society, Book 6) by Adam Gidwitz & Henna Khan, illustrated by Hatem Aly. Dutton Children’s Books, 2021. 9780735231450

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Adventure/fantasy

What did you like about the book? Professor Fauna, Uchenna and Elliot are off on a new mission for the Unicorn Rescue Society, which may result in the location and rescue of an actual unicorn!  When the professor notices what looks like a unicorn’s horn in the background of a photo of the nefarious Schmoke brothers, he enlists his young friends to fly off to the Himalayas in northern Pakistan.  There they meet Waleed, a Pakistani boy who serves as tour guide and interpreter during their adventure.  With Waleed’s help, the intrepid trio enjoy delicious meals and local hospitality, discover the existence of a goat called a markhor, and learn about folkloric beliefs about the goat’s magical healing abilities.  Waleed also leads them to Asim Sahib, an old man who lives high in the mountains to observe the goats’ behavior and protect them from poachers. A low-flying helicopter leads them to an encampment where they encounter the Schmokes, as always up to no good, and this time with potentially deadly consequences.  The Unicorn Rescue Society must use everything they have learned about the region and its goat inhabitants to save the day.  

This is another fun outing in an admirable series that should appeal to aspiring cryptozoologists, global adventurers, and environmental activists.  Series co-creator Adam Gidwitz chose co-author Hena Khan to ensure accuracy in the details about Pakistani culture and Muslim traditions, and she appends an informative author’s note.  Hatem Aly’s illustrations provide occasional comic relief without distracting from the text.  The book also includes an excerpt from the illuminated text discovered in Book 5, which explains the medieval origins of the Unicorn Rescue Society.

Anything you did not like about the book?  No

To whom would you recommend this book? Series fans will be glad for a new installment; it is a good light reading choice for kids who like series like Treasure Hunters, Genius Files, or other globetrotting adventures.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Fiction

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: October 14, 2021

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