The Secret of the Unicorn (The Adventures of Tintin)

Common Sense Media says

Exciting pirate-treasure search in classic Tintin series.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

The vocabulary in this, and all Tintin adventures, is quite advanced and also very British in places -- it was translated from Herge's original French for an English audience, not an American one. There are realistic depictions of pirate life on the high seas in some flashback scenes, and the regular action shows a slice of what life was like in the 1940s -- the telephones, cars, clothes, etc. The story is sufficiently complex that it requires real attention to follow its twists and turns.

Positive messages

Tintin and his friends are loyal to each other and united in their fight against the bad guys. They never initiate violence, only react to it. 

Positive role models

Tintin is unfailingly honest, polite, reasonable and friendly -- but he will also defend himself and his friends any way he can.

Violence

The cartoonish action includes gunfire, fistfights, an explosion, a swordfight, a menacing dog, and assorted slapstick mayhem -- especially when the bungling, incompetent look-alike (but unrelated) detectives, Thompson and Thomson, appear. There is no blood; however, one minor character dies after being shot.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

There is no actual cursing, but the temperamental Captain Haddock constantly shouts strange and funny insults at people who cross him, such as "Earthworm!" "Sea- gherkin!" "Vermicelli!" "Pyrographers!" "Saucy Tramp!" "Bashi-bazouk!" and also utters variations on his famous expression of astonishment: "Blistering barnacles and thundering typhoons!"

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Tintin's troublemaking sidekick, Captain Haddock, is an alcoholic who drinks his way through every adventure and whose obsession with whiskey invariably has negative (and often hilarious) consequences. In The Secret of the Unicorn (and in a couple of other Tintin books), even Tintin's faithful dog, Snowy, gets a little tipsy when he carelessly laps up some booze. But Tintin himself is a straight arrow who's always trying to keep the captain away from whiskey.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Secret of the Unicorn is actually part one of a two-part adventure rendered in highly realistic comic book/graphic novel style by the Belgian artist/writer Herge in the mid-1940s. This story of a hunt for lost pirate treasure ends in a cliffhanger, with the actual undersea search occurring in the follow-up, Red Rackham's Treasure. Those two books, along with episodes from the unrelated Tintin adventure The Crab With the Golden Claws, are the basis of the Steven Spielberg-directed film The Adventures of Tintin.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN, the intrepid young reporter Tintin, his ill-tempered friend Captain Haddock, and Tintin's faithful and funny terrier, Snowy, get swept up in a complicated mystery that leads to a search for lost pirate treasure. Along the way they encounter and sometimes battle with various odd and sinister people who are also on the trail of the treasure.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The realistic artwork is magnificently detailed and the characters -- some funny, some ordinary, some menacing -- are vividly drawn, as well. The story is sophisticated and engaging. There is lots of broad comedy but also plenty of serious action. Reading The Secret of The Unicorn without its sequel, Red Rackham's Treasure, would be very frustrating, however. Warning: Tintin books can become addictive!

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Tintin adventures have been thrilling young readers around the world for more than 60 years. Why do you think this classic series is so popular?

  • The Secret of the Unicorn is one of 23 Tintin books. Have you read any of the others? If so, how does this one compare?

  • Tintin adventures are told in the style of a graphic novel, a kind of book that is quite popular today. What are the advantages of telling an action-adventure story this way?

  • Captain Haddock finds clues to treasure lost by his ancestor, Sir Francis Haddock, who commanded The Unicorn, a sailing ship in King Charles II's fleet, which was overtaken by pirates in 1676. Have you heard stories about any of your relatives who led adventurous lives years ago?

Book details

Author:Herge
Genre:Adventure
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Egmont Books
Publication date:January 14, 1943
Number of pages:64

This review of The Secret of the Unicorn (The Adventures of Tintin) was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 12 years old Written bylinas101 December 20, 2011
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

Drunk

drunkness and smoking thats all mild violance

What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byRobbyWBoy16 January 3, 2012
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

tintin book

good book, mystery brings this book an adventure.

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence

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