Cryptid Hunters

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Cryptid Hunters
Author Roland Smith
Cover artist Gail Doobinin
Country United States
Language English
Series Marty and Grace
Genre Fantasy, Adventure, Science Fiction
Publisher Hyperion Books, Scholastic
Publication date
February 2005 (2005-02)
Media type Print
Pages 352
Awards see Accolades
ISBN 978-0786851614
OCLC 61772218
LC Class PZ7.S65766 Cr 2005
Followed by Tentacles

Cryptid Hunters is a 2005 young adult science fiction novel by Roland Smith; it follows the adventures of thirteen-year-old siblings Grace and Marty O'Hara, who are sent to live with their Uncle Wolfe after their parents are lost in an accident. He is an anthropologist on a remote island, searching for cryptids, which are animals thought to be extinct or not to exist. His rival Noah Blackwood, a popular animal collector, tries to acquire an alleged dinosaur egg from Wolfe, and the twins get involved in the conflict which reveals a convoluted family history.[1] The novel was nominated for several library awards and book lists, which include Hawaii's 2008 Nene Recommended Book List,[2] the Texas Library Association's 2007-2008 Lone Star Reading List,[3] and Third Place for the Missouri Association of School Librarians' Mark Twain Readers Award.[4] Smith has written three sequels called Tentacles, Chupacabra, and Mutation.[5]


Marty and Grace O'Hara are thirteen-year-old twins with differing personalities; Marty is a "mischief maker"[6] with a photographic memory and is very curious; Grace is very intelligent but has a "healthy dose of phobias".[7] They have been attending boarding school in Switzerland.[8] Their parents are photojournalists, however, one day they go missing in the Amazon jungle[8] from a helicopter crash. The twins are consequently sent to live with their uncle, Travis Wolfe, an anthropologist who lives on a private island called Cryptos,[1] off the coast of the state of Washington.[8][9]

Wolfe has dedicated his life to finding cryptids, which are animals "whose existence has not yet been proven scientifically."[1] During the twins' stay, Dr. Laurel Lee arrives with an egg that is presumed to be a Mokélé-mbembé, a dinosaur thought to have gone extinct, but believed by some to still exist in the Congo. Lee explains that she gave the egg to Dr. Noah Blackwood, a conservationist who is known for his animal theme parks and appearances on television shows.[1] Although Blackwood appears to be sweet and caring, he is later revealed to be a ruthless collector and harvester of rare animals,[1] so Lee has stolen the egg back, but has left her field notes in Blackwood’s lab. Wolfe assembles a team to head to the Congo[8] to contact his local friend Masalito and to find the Mokélé-mbembé before Blackwood gets there. They plan to send Marty and Grace back to boarding school on the same flight.

During the flight, Marty frees Bo, a chimpanzee, from his cage, and they have to find him. Marty and Grace follow Bo down a supply chute in the cargo bay, and discover that both Bo and PD, a teacup poodle, are down there. The chute opens, and they are air dropped into the Congo jungle.[6] Marty uses a device called a Gizmo to find Grace and their animal companions. Wolfe contacts Marty and directs them to a sky house by Lake Télé, but Wolfe's group will not be able to reach there for a week. He explains that they need to avoid Butch McCall, Blackwood's top henchman,[8] and instructs them on how to contact Masalito by using a molimo. Butch spots the children, and reports back to Blackwood, who tells him to find the girl. Butch steals the Gizmo and impersonates Marty in his communications with Wolfe. Grace and Marty eventually reach the sky house, but when Marty leaves briefly to fetch a pack, Grace faints and knocks herself unconscious; Butch and his men abduct her.

Marty calls Masalito with the molimo, and they manage to communicate. Marty realizes Butch has kidnapped Grace. The twins discover that Grace is actually Wolfe's daughter, and Blackwood's granddaughter (Wolfe married Blackwood's daughter and had Marty's parents take care of Grace).[1] Grace, who has had nightmares of various events throughout the story, realizes some of her dreams are actually memories. Wolfe tells Lee that Mokélé-mbembé had killed Grace's mother and tore his leg. Wolfe also becomes suspicious of Marty's communications.

As Marty and Masalito search for Grace, Wolfe and Lee spot a note through Bo's video camera feed. They realize that Butch is hunting them, so they ditch their possible tracking devices. Meanwhile, Grace gives first aid to one of Butch's men who was injured by a silverback gorilla. She later drugs their food and tries to escape while the men are sleeping. One of the men stays awake long enough to alert the others to follow her.

Marty finds Butch and attacks him. He takes back the Gizmo, and throws Butch's boots into the swamp. He catches up to Grace, and they rush into a tunnel of trees. They find the body of Mokélé-mbembé, which Wolfe directs them to burn. They recover its eggs from a nest, and return to the sky house, however, Blackwood and Butch lie in wait. Marty rushes upstairs; Grace follows but is stopped by Butch, who ties her up and is about to put her into Blackwood's helicopter. Marty has Butch and Blackwood hand over Grace by tossing one of the eggs (actually a fake, a ball with motor oil). Lee and Wolfe arrive at the clearing. With Blackwood's helicopter, they fly home to Cryptos.


A Kirkus magazine review described the story as "a B-movie with email". The "enjoyably rollicking adventures are appropriately cheesy; the stereotypes, though equally fitting, are a bit much."[6] Author Wendy Sparrow wrote that "the book was like the Magic Treehouse kids all grown up and taking on Jurassic Park or Journey to the Center of the Earth." She enjoyed Grace and Marty's "fun and real" personalities. The five-year-old technology was not dated, and the book was surprisingly audience-friendly that she could read it to her seven-year-old son.[7]


A list of notable formats is as follows:

Release Date Publisher format pages ISBN
February 2005[note 1] Hyperion Books[note 2] hardcover 352pp 978-0786851614
2005[note 3] Scholastic paperback 348pp 978-0439799232
March/April 2006[note 4] Hyperion Books trade paperback 352pp 978-0786851621
April 2006 Turtleback Books library binding 348pp 978-1417732395


The following states and organizations have placed Cryptid Hunters on their suggested reading lists:

  • 2009-2010 Young Hoosier Book Award, Middle School category, Indiana Library Federation.[10][11]
  • 2008 Nene Recommended Book List, Hawaii.[2]
  • 2007-2008 Mark Twain Readers Award - 3rd Place, Missouri Association of School Librarians.[12]
  • 2007-2008 South Carolina Junior Book Award nominee, 6th-8th Grade, South Carolina Association of School Librarians.[13][14][15]
  • 2007 Colorado Children's Book Award nominee, Junior Book, Colorado Council International Reading Association.[16]
  • 2007 Nevada Young Readers Award winner, Intermediate Category, Nevada Library Association.[17][18]
  • 2006-2007 Black-Eyed Susan Award nominee, Maryland.[19][20]
  • 2006-2007 Lone Star Reading List, Grades 6-8, Texas Library Association.[3][21]
  • 2006-2007 Sunshine State Young Readers Award winner, grades 3-5, Florida Association for Media in Education.[22]


  1. ^ Original publishing month is as referenced by published reviews. Some of the distributor websites such as Amazon, Barnes&Noble have posted a release date as early as December 27, 2004.
  2. ^ The publisher, Hyperion Books, has also been referred to as Disney-Hyperion, and Hyperion Books for Children.
  3. ^ has listed a publish date of January 1, 2005, but this may be a filler for any unknown dates in 2005.
  4. ^ Amazon posted a release date of March 21, 2006, while Barnes&Noble and posted a release date of April 1, 2006.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Cryptid Hunters". Powell's Books.  - contains review from "Cryptid Hunter". Publisher's Weekly. Vol. 252 no. 7. February 14, 2005. p. 77. 
  2. ^ a b "2008 Recommended Book List". Nēnē. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Lone Star Reading List". City of Austin - APL. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  4. ^ "2007-2008 Mark Twain Readers Award Winners". Missouri Association of School Librarians. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  5. ^ "Roland Smith". Fantastic Fiction. Retrieved 2015-04-11. 
  6. ^ a b c "Cryptid Hunters by Roland Smith". Kirkus Reviews. Vol. 72 no. 24. December 15, 2004. p. 1208. 
  7. ^ a b Sparrow, Wendy. "Wendy Sparrow's reviews - Cryptid Hunters (Marty and Grace, #1)". Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Stevenson, Jennifer. "Cryptid Hunters by Roland Smith". The Literate Mother. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  9. ^ Jansen-Gruber, Marya. "Cryptid Hunters". Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  10. ^ "YHBA Past Winners". Indiana Library Federation. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  11. ^ "YHBA Past Nominees" (PDF). Indiana Library Federation. Retrieved May 4, 2010. 
  12. ^ "2007-2008 Mark Twain Readers Award Winners - Missouri Association of School Librarians". 2013-02-07. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  13. ^ "South Carolina Book Award Committee 2006-2007" (PDF). South Carolina Association of School Libraries. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  14. ^ "Junior Book Award « SCASL". South Carolina Association of School Libraries. 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  15. ^ "Hughes Academy Media Center". Greenville County Schools. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  16. ^ "Children's Literature Reviews". Children's Literature Comprehensive Database. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  17. ^ "Nevada Young Readers' Award - Past Winners". Nevada Library Association. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Oregon Authors - Smith, Roland". Oregon Authors. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  19. ^ "2007 Black-Eyed Susan Books Packet" (PDF). McDaniel College. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  20. ^ "WKMS Suggested 2006-2007 Reading Page". Frederick County Public Schools. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  21. ^ "Lone Star Reading List". Texas Library Association. Retrieved 2013-05-04.  - select All Lists, then Master List, which is in Excel format
  22. ^ "SSYRA General Information/Links - Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME)". 2013-04-25. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 

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