Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Unicorn Island: Secret Beneath the Sand by Donna Galanti, illustrations by Bethany Stancliffe

Unicorn Island:  Secret Beneath the Sand by Donna Galanti, illustrations by Bethany Stancliffe 
Format:  E-ARC
Publisher:  Andrews McMeel Publishing
Number of pages:  224 
Publishing:  March 8th, 2022
Source: Edelweiss+

Opening Line:  "Sun filtered through the fog, touching the meadow with its soft, golden glow as Sam ran across the flowing grass with the unicorns." 

In the first book in the Unicorn Island series, Sam moved in with her Uncle Mitch in Foggy Harbor, South Carolina.  While living with him, she discovered his secret, that he is the fog keeper, or the caretaker for the unicorns that are housed on an island that is shrouded behind a mist of fog.  When one of the newborns falls ill, Sam and her new friend, Tuck race to provide a cure that will save the young unicorn. 

In the second book in the Unicorn Island series, Sam and Tuck are now apprentice unicorn protectors, assisting in the care and protection of the herd.  When the young unicorn they saved in the previous book, Barloc becomes sickly, Sam begins to question whether the herd is being infected by a new disease.  Something is certainly spreading through the rest of the unicorns, causing their magic to be drained and the whole herd is at risk for losing their horns.  Can Tuck, Sam and Uncle Mitch find out what is stressing the herd and deal with the threat before the herd becomes mortal?

One of the first things that I enjoy about each of these stories are the full color illustrations by Bethany Stancliffe, the bright colors of the sun, grass, flowers and of course the beautiful unicorns.  The illustrations really add to the story and have huge kid appeal.  I also really enjoyed the inclusion of Grendell, the sand creature and especially the resolution of the story.  Sam finally received some answers she'd been waiting for, and the story left an opening for her to connect with her mother, which I am especially hopeful for.  At the end of the book, Galanti includes questions for the reader, things like what are horns made of?  What is an invasive species?  Each seeming to tie back to the story and highlighting various scientific facts.  Give this to a kid who enjoyed Adam Gidwitz's The Unicorn Rescue Society or the Unicorn Academy Series by Julie Sykes.       


  1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and review Secret Beneath the Sand! Glad you enjoyed it and I agree that Bethany Stancliffe's illustrations are gorgeous!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  2. Glad you enjoyed the second book in the series. I just got the first book from my library and am looking forward to reading it.

  3. I love the full color illustrations too. So fun- but I think that kids will love them! :)

    1. Thanks so much! Bethany Stancliffe created such vibrant illustrations for the story :)