Valentina Salazar is Not a Monster Hunter, by Zoraida Córdova

Valentina Salazar is Not a Monster Hunter, by Zoraida Córdova (June 28, 2022, Scholastic) is a fun new middle grade fantasy perfect, just perfect, for kids who have outgrown the elementary magical creature befriending books.  Here we have magical creatures galore, and even rainbow unicorn poop, but there are serious family issues driving the plot, and serious questions about ethical choices.  There's also a wild car trip in a very wild vehicle, a visit to an alternate world where magical creatures live, an evil powerful organization that must be infiltrated, and a kick-ass mom who gets to help (which I appreciated).

Val has grown up in a family of monster protectors, dashing across the country with her parents and three older siblings whenever they hear of a sighting.  Her father was raised to be a monster hunter, dealing with incursions by killing the monsters, but rejected that. Instead, he has taught his family to trap the creatures and send them back to their home world.  But when he's killed by an ora puma (a mountain lion with wings and a scorpion tail), her mother takes the family to a small town where they can have a normal life.  Andie, the oldest sister, leaves home almost immediately to join the monster hunters in a betrayal Val can't wrap her head around.  Lola and Rome seem to be cool with going to school.  But Val is a frustrated, miserable mess, and gets herself into heaps of trouble when she tries to deal with monsters she thinks she sees at school.

But on the last day of school, there really is a fire breathing lizardish chipmunk up a tree...and the situation that ensues not only gets Val one last detention, but it brings her and her siblings a little bit closer.  Then Val sees an online clip of a kid showing off his "dragon" egg, and recognizes it as an ora puma egg.  Determined to live up to her family's creed, she decides, in good middle grade fashion, that she will drive the family monster hunting van cross country to get hold of the egg, and send it back where it belongs.

Fortunately, Lola and Rome aren't going to let her go alone.  

And this is really where the book gets going!  Lots of adventures, new friends, narrow escapes, magical creatures, and more, and it is all most satisfactory. Val's determination and zeal might get her into trouble at school, but it is just what is needed to not only bring her family back together and hold them to the ethical standards by which they were raised, but also to take down a nasty organization that wants to profit from monsters, and will stop at nothing to do so.

Sweetening the pot for the target audience is Val's guilty secret.  She has befriended a cute little sugar loving monster instead of sending it home, and it is rather adorable.  

In short, lots of magical creatures and lots of heart! I enjoyed the whole ensemble lots, especially once the road trip started.

disclaimer: review copy received (aka snatched by my greedy little paws) at ALA for review.



  1. Sounds a lovely and fun story! I must add to my TBR. Thanks for the review!

  2. Sounds so much fun! Thank you for sharing


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