Book Title & Alexandra's Review

Unicorn Rescue Society: The Madre de Aguas of Cuba by Adam Gidwitz & Emma Otheguy

3rd Grade and Up


In Cuba, it is believed that a mysterious water serpent – the Madre de aguas – is responsible for providing and protecting the fresh water of the island. But the serpent is missing, and a drought has gripped the island. Uchenna, Elliot, and Professor Fauna fly to Cuba and endeavor to rescue the Madre de aguas. Unfortunately, it tries to kill them. Meanwhile, the Schmoke Brothers’ goons are driving around Havana, dumping pink sludge into the sewers. What is going on? Can Elliot and Uchenna end the drought? Stop the Schmokes? Or will the creature they are trying to save just eat them instead?


When I first learned about the country and mythical creature featured in this book, I wasn’t 100% on board. I was hoping for a story that takes place somewhere outside North America.


Fortunately, I found Cuba’s history and blended cultures fascinating. I can pretty much summarize most of Cuba’s history in one line from the story:

“Those in power are always making the lives of regular people miserable.”

From what is said in this story, life is Cuba is rough. Everything about Cuba, including difficult topics, are talked about in a way that children can understand but also are not dumbed down. I’m grateful for this because I have a hard time grasping certain subjects.


I’ve never heard of the Madre de aguas, the Mother of waters, before. Luckily, she turned out to be a much more compelling mythical creature than I originally thought. This is why I like this series so much. What other book series can weave the history, culture and mythology of one country into one story?


There’s an abundance of Spanish in this story and since I barely passed two years of Spanish in high school, I had to use a Spanish to English translator I found on Google. Here are a few words and phrases I translated from the story:


No se = I don’t know

Malecón = pier

Sequía = drought

Cambio y fuero = Over and out

Busco un unicornio = I’m looking for a unicorn


The Schmoke Brothers’, being the stereotypical immoral businessmen that they are, have come up with an evil scheme that is, unfortunately, one I could see happening in real life. That’s all I’m going to say on the subject.


I’m still hoping the kids and the Professor will be traveling to a different continent in the next book. Maybe they could go to Scotland to help the Loch Ness Monster. I’d love to learn more about Scotland. Fingers crossed.


For more info on the series, check out the Unicorn Rescue Society’s website.


I’m also including a link to the Unicorn Rescue Society’s YouTube channel. There are only a few videos, but they are really fun and entertaining.


This weeks’ Weird but True Facts about Cuba

80% of the reptiles and amphibians in Cuba are found nowhere else on Earth.

The cha-cha dance originated in Cuba.

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