Beth Hautala

Children's Author



Twelve-year-old Talia McQuinn keeps hidden a jar of wishes—a tradition of hoping and dreaming she began with her mother before her recent death. But when Talia's whale-researcher father drags her to the Arctic for the summer, and leaves on expedition shortly after their arrival, not even her jar of wishes can offer Talia the comfort it once did.

Feeling lost and abandoned in a completely foreign place, Talia begins to doubt whether the broken pieces inside of her will ever begin to heal. That is until Sura, the Inuit woman who Talia must live with, introduces her to the tale of the unicorn of the sea—the only animal believed to have the power to grant wishes. All at once, Talia begins to wonder if perhaps there's more to this culture and frozen landscape than she first thought. And maybe there's more to her own story, too.

A rich and poignant novel about opening up to new people and moving forward with life, Waiting for Unicorns celebrates the power of discovering hope and second chances in the unlikeliest of places.


Readers who were touched by Holly Goldberg Sloan’s COUNTING BY 7S, will find this to be a similarly moving tale.
— The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Contemplative writing . . . a thoughtful examination of loss and hope.
— Booklist

An affecting exploration of grief and the hope that can come through the love of good friends. With spellbinding descriptions . . . this story will stay with readers.”
— Publishers Weekly

Hautala’s writing in this first-person narrative is lyrical and evocative; her descriptions of the landscape are vivid. Written by an author to watch, this quiet story of loss and healing will appeal to thoughtful readers.”
— Kirkus Reviews


Eleven-year old Olivia Grant has a knack for finding lost things. But there's one thing she can't seem to find: her brother Jacob's toy ostrich. And this isn't just any toy—Jacob is autistic, and Olivia is certain that when he lost his ostrich, his autism got significantly worse.

With their parents focused on helping Jacob, Olivia has had to give up a lot. So, when a local community theater announces auditions for an all-children's production of her favorite show, Peter Pan, Olivia jumps at the chance to claim something for herself. But nothing goes as planned, on stage or off, and when a real live ostrich escapes from the nearby zoo and causes even more trouble than Jacob's missing toy, things turn to chaos. Olivia knows that if she can just find Jacob's ostrich, everything will return to normal. But what does "normal" really mean? And is everything lost meant to be found?

A poignant and heartwarming story about the complexities and nuances of siblinghood, and the power and struggles of unconditional love.



This is hands down the best book with an autistic character that I have ever read. I would recommend this title for those who enjoy books like WONDER (Knopf, 2012), OUT OF MY MIND (Atheneum, 2010), and THE RUNNING DREAM (Knopf, 2011). It has a wonderful plot that readers will love and teaches a lot about dealing with individuals who are diagnosed with autism. This is a must read!
— School Library Connection (starred review)

The stresses of being a sibling of someone with autism are very real, and Hautala describes the constriction and frustration Olivia feels, artfully and authentically.
— Booklist

[Readers] will quickly find their way . . . through Hautala’s rhythmic style, simplistic language, and detailed descriptions. As in her first book, WAITING FOR UNICORNS, Hautala offers an emotionally adept story about love and understanding.
— School Library Journal