Friday, March 31, 2023

Today's read... Unicorn Island: Beyond the Portal by Donna Galanti

Pink adventures and unicorns...those are the vibes I'm getting from this cover. Today's read is the third (and I believe final?) book in the Unicorn Island series. I have not read the first two books but that never stops me from enjoying a read. I'm expecting friendship, adventure, imagination, tension, and unicorns. So, let's see if these pages hold all of that...and hopefully, even more.

Unicorn Island, #3
by Donna Galanti
Illustrated by Bethany Stancliffe
Andrews McMeel
Middle Grade Fantasy
240 pages
ages 8 to 12

APRIL 4th!!!

The secrets of Unicorn Island are all revealed in the final book in Epic’s middle-grade fantasy series! When Sam and Tuck discover a way to unlock the answers they’ve been seeking, they must set out to discover the truth…

For Sam, knowing a little about her mother’s disappearance through the portal is almost worse than knowing nothing at all. Determined to distract herself, she tries to learn everything possible about caring for the herd on Unicorn Island. But when she and her friend Tuck stumble on a coded verse in The Unicorn Protector Creed, they are faced with an even greater task.

With no way of knowing what’s beyond it, Sam, Tuck, and Barloc the unicorn step through the portal and find that not only is Sam’s mother no longer a unicorn protector, she also lives in a world plagued by its own problems—and convinced that the only solution to them rests in the horn on Barloc’s head.

With the portal closing at sundown on the third day, Sam and Tuck are in a race to rescue their friend, reunite their families, and save another world from a terrible fate of its own making!



With family, friendship, and magic, and exciting adventure unfolds, which will keep readers hooked until the last page.

Sam's mother has been missing since she was a toddler, and now, that her father has returned, she's determined to locate her mother, too. When she discovers a book, which holds the key to unlock the portal through which her mother disappeared, she and Tuck embark on a journey, which packs more than they expected.

This is the third novel in the series, and while I didn't read the first two, it wasn't difficult to sink into this one. These are not really stand-alones, though, since the stories do build on each other to a certain degree. 

First off, I do enjoy the cover. Not only do the pink coloring, unicorns, and stars catch the eye, but there are silver, glistening words and stars...superficial? Probably but it does invite with a special touch. The first pages were a bit to chew through. The author does a super-quick summary of Sam's general family/friend developments from the first novels to help with memory (or new readers like me), but it turns into a hodge-podge of names, which had both my daughter and me re-reading it four or more times to get the names figured out...and we wonder if that was really necessary. But after that, this tales soars off into fun and imagination.

There's a lovely balance of family, friends and adventure in these pages, giving it heart while building up the action and excitement. It keeps a nice pace the entire way through (never too quick nor too slow) and holds several surprises. Sam and Tuck are a great pair, who work together well even when they don't agree completely. It's an inspiring friendship, but then, Sam has quite a bit of support in her corner thanks to her varied family, too. Then, there's her magical friends, which add a nice touch of imagination.

The illustrations are colorful and brighten up the tale. It is a treat to hit each one and get a glimpse of the scenes, since they do bring the world and characters even more life. 

I would recommend this one more for the lower end of the middle grade audience or those who are transitioning from chapter books into the middle grade novels. The font is larger, making it easier to read, and the tale stays lighter for that age end. There are a few more difficult words thrown in to ease into higher reading levels, but the general level is very age appropriate. At the end of the book, there are several sections, which add more information to various topics hit during the story (each two pages). Readers get a deeper dive into information surrounding themes like horseback riding, mythical purposes of unicorn horns, colic and more.

So summed up, this is a lovely read to end off the series. It holds adventure, heart, imagination, and even a little information. 

And here the are...

Donna Galanti wanted to be a writer ever since she attended an English school, housed in a magical castle, where her wild imagination was held back only by her itchy uniform (bowler hat and tie included!). She loves to visit young readers as a guest author at schools and is also the author of the middle-grade fantasy adventures Joshua and the Lightning Road and Joshua and the Arrow Realm. Donna has lived in fun locations including England, her family-owned campground in New Hampshire, and in Hawaii where she served as a U.S. Navy photographer for Fleet Intelligence Pacific. When she’s not writing you can usually find her hiking in the woods.

Bethany Jayde Stancliffe is a Central Washington-based artist who grew up in the Rockies, where she spent her time building tree forts, reading fairy tales, and filling up sketchbooks. Having had a spectrum of creative interests since childhood ranging from architecture to animation, she has found a home in illustration, where design and storytelling meet. Following in the footsteps of her parents, Bethany studied art and illustration at BYU-Idaho. She draws most of her inspiration from nature, films, and childhood adventures and has a love for interesting textures and patterns. When she’s not painting, she enjoys exploring outside with her son, Max, and creating original stories with her husband.

1 comment:

DonnaGalanti said...

Oh thank you for reading Beyond the Portal and for your in-depth review! I'm glad you enjoyed it even without having read book 1 or 2.