Submerge

Lia and Clay’s love has broken the Little Mermaid’s curse, but their ever after may not be as happy as they planned. Lia is adamant about staying on land with Clay for her senior year despite her family’s opportunity to move to the new, sparkling capital city below the waves. But before any decision about the future can be made, her family must endure Melusine and her father’s trial, where new revelations will have far-reaching consequences that threaten what Lia holds most dear.

The verdict will shake Lia’s world, calling into question her future with Clay, her feelings for Caspian, and the fate of all Merkind. As she wonders who to trust, Lia sets out on a treacherous path that will lead her away from her sheltered Malibu home to a remote and mysterious school for Mermaids—Mermaids who may hold the secret to an ancient magic Lia can use to get back all she’s lost.

As a “princess,” Lia must learn about Mer politics. However, much of Lia’s teaching is dry and boring. In class, Lia learns about “magic having unintended political consequences.” Even though the story introduces the Mer world, Lia explores very little of it. Instead, her only focus is on restoring Clay’s memory so they can be together. Lia is so focused on herself that she never notices anyone else’s needs. Unfortunately, Lia’s single-minded focus on Clay becomes tedious.

The first part of Submerge is a retelling of the events from the first book in the series. The repetition is long-winded and readers will quickly lose interest in the court proceedings. In addition, a Mer teacher, Ondine, is introduced. Instead of adding interest to the story, Lia’s trust in Ondine is unbelievable, and Ondine’s betrayal, predictable. To make matters worse, Caspian is suddenly in love with Lia, which adds another unbelievable element to the story. The conclusion doesn’t wrap up any of the story’s threads and reinforces the idea that Lia cannot think past her own wants. Readers who love Disney’s Little Mermaid will want to throw the Mer Chronicles into the ocean and watch it sink to a watery grave.

Sexual Content

  • Mers get their legs during puberty because they need legs “for mating.”
  • Lia and her boyfriend kiss. Lia describes the kiss. “I let my eyes flutter shut. Let myself taste Clay’s lips against mine. Get lost in the richness of every touch, every press of his tongue and graze of his cheek.”
  • When Lia shows Clay her tail, he kisses her. “Slow and sweet and swirling to different depths. I forget everything else.” The kiss is interrupted when Clay’s mother walks in on them.
  • Clay and Lia kiss often. For example, while swimming in the ocean, “strong arms grab me and pull me against him, my wet body pressing against his. . . Droplets of water from his face collide with mine as he takes my mouth in a kiss as sweeping as the sea breeze itself.”
  • Clay and Lia discuss the trial. Then they kiss. “Now he does pull me in, pressing my body flush against his and seizes my mouth violently with his. There’s a wildness, a fervor, in his kiss I’ve never felt before. . . So I push back with equal ferocity.”
  • Clay is preparing to take a potion that will take away some of his memories when Lia and Clay decide to have sex for the first time. “Clay’s eyes close as he bites the bottom of my lip. When he opens them again, desire darkens the hazel. I’ve never seen such naked hunger.” Clay stops kissing her so they can go somewhere private.
  • Before Clay takes the potion, Lea wants to give Clay a memory that he will not forget so they have sex for the first time. Clay’s “palms skim up and down my arms, leaving streaks of exhilarating tingles in their wake from shoulder to wrist. My fingers twine into his hair as our mouths latch together, more lasting and leading than ever before. . . He grabs what he needs from the nightstand (and there’s something that seems both so comforting and so momentous about that small, foil packet), and then he moves toward me. . .Time surges and crests, and we move with it, holding each other close. . .”
  • After Clay loses his memory, Lia’s sister tells her, “A rebound hookup can be totally hot.”
  • In the middle of the night, Lia and Clay show up at Clay’s father’s house, which is on a military base. His father gets upset and says, “I got you security clearance so you could feel at home here, not so you could . . . score with girls.”
  • After Lia fights against ancient magic and wins, Lia and Clay kiss. “Clay’s lips are on mine the instant the door clicks shut. Hands run up my bare arms and tangle in my hair as biceps cloaked in thin cotton press against my eager palms. His tongue welcomes me, drawing me in until I’m utterly lost in his kisses, drowning in the sensations of soft lips and rough stubble. . . ”

Violence

  • A Mermaid describes her mother’s death. When her mom went shopping, raiders “cut her throat. Left her to die.”
  • Someone tells Lia a story about a siren who wanted revenge “so she used the siren bond she shared with him to sense when he was alone and to call him to her so she could murder him in cold blood after making him—”
  • In order to manipulate Lia, Ondine binds Caspian. “The ropes tighten more and more until Caspian, so strong and stoic, can’t help but scream.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • Lia’s sisters are looking forward to college keg parties.
  • A mermaid, who was a siren, is given a potion that will not allow her to speak in the human world.
  • The Mer Tribunal gives Clay a potion that takes away all of his memories of Lia. “The potion works by constructing extremely powerful wands that completely block Clay’s mind from accessing certain memories.”
  • Clay is given antidepressants because of his depression; however, he doesn’t know if he should take them.

Language

  • Several different forms of damn are used occasionally.
  • During a trial, Lia watches the defendant and wonders, “What the hell does he have to smile about?”
  • When the Mermaid that tried to kill Clay and Lia testifies, Lia thinks, “That bitch starts talking. I don’t trust myself not to snap.”
  • God is used as an exclamation twice.
  • Pissed is used twice. For example, Lia thinks, “The last thing I want to do is piss off the psycho with raging powers . . .”
  • Clay says “eff that” and later he says, “I was so goddamn helpless and you needed me!”

Supernatural

  • Most Mer do not use ancient magic, but they do utilize potions. Much of the story revolves around Lia learning how to use magic.
  • At the trial, Caspian explains how the defendant used runes. The runes, “mapped out coordinates. It was part of a spell—marking Clay’s bedroom with the place under the sea where he would sleep forever.”
  • Because Lia “sirened” Clay, they have a special bond and can feel each other. Lia “can trace him, feel him, no matter how far away he is.” Lia can also use this bond to tell what Clay is thinking and feeling.
  • In order to perform ancient magic, Lia’s palm is cut and she shares her blood with other Mermaids. “Only through blood magic can we forge new links to fully access new power.” The Mermaids then use their combined power to restore Clay’s memories.
  • Ondine forces Lia to take a potion so she can siren humans.
  • Lia uses magic to break Ondine’s hold on her. “The rope of magic grows impossibly brighter. Blinding! I can feel it sizzle and it scares me. It scares me more than anything that has ever scared me. I grab on to it—and scream. . . Even as her power sears through me, scalding me from the inside, I pull hard.” Lia’s magic is able to overcome Ondine, and Ondine disappears. The scene is described over two pages.
  • Lia releases Ondine’s power into the sea. Lia’s “body tingles with burning ice as the magic picks up speed, cycloning through my chest, down my arms, and out my palms. I crash to my knees as all flows out of me and disappears beneath the waves.”

Spiritual Content

  • Ondine takes Lia to “a sacred space. . . a place where magic itself is worshiped.”

Camille’s Mermaid Tale

Camille loves the ocean—the warm sand, the pretty shells, and the sparkling waves that tickle her toes. Sometimes she even imagines that she’s a mermaid with whales and dolphins for friends. When the other WellieWishers see how much Camille misses her summers by the sea, they want to help. . . but how can four girls turn a garden into an ocean?

Camille’s friends plan the perfect surprise for Camille. Even though the readers know what Camille’s friends are hiding, they will still understand Camille’s feelings. “Camille was pretty sure the other WellieWishers were hiding something from her, which made her feel left out and lonely and sad.” Even though Camille is upset, she doesn’t get angry at her friends; instead, she spends her time writing mermaid stories.

Young readers will enjoy the story’s rhyming words and ocean-themed puns, such as when Aunt Miranda says, “Don’t worry, I’ll keep your secret. It’ll be easy: I’ll just clam up.” Another fun story element is when the girls sing songs. For example, Camille sings a song to the tune of “Yankee Doodle.” She sings, “Acrobats and rainy picnics, Boats with lots of doodles, Starry skies, and fireflies: We really used our noodles!”

The WellieWishers are introduced through pictures that appear on the first page. The diverse group of girls wears adorably bright clothes and wellie boots. All of the girls’ different personalities blend to make a wonderful friend group. Almost every page has a brightly colored illustration that helps the readers understand the plot. The girls’ facial expressions will also help the readers understand the girls’ emotions.

Young readers will want to grab Camille’s Mermaid Tale because of the adorably cute pictures and the high-interest topic; however, they will also be entertained by the story and learn important lessons about friendship. The book ends with a section “For Parents” that gives ideas of crafts that correspond with the book. Camille’s Mermaid Tale will encourage readers to use their imagination as it reinforces the idea that “you are never too big to imagine you’re a mermaid.” The Purrmaids Series by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen will also delight readers who love mermaids.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Disney’s Moana: Pua and Heihei

Moana helps get ready for a feast. She finds a shell and decides to make her dad a gift: a bracelet. Heihei the rooster keeps making trouble, he pecks holes in the leaves that the villagers use to wrap food in. Moana drops the bracelet and it lands on Heihei. Pua the pig wants to find the bracelet for Moana. Both Heihei and Pua get trapped in a fishing net. Moana untangles the net and finds the bracelet. Moana is happy that her dad loves the gift.

Young readers will need help reading Pua and Heihei. The story uses basic vocabulary and short sentences but is intended for children who are familiar with words on sight and can sound out new words. Each page has 1 to 3 simple sentences that are printed in large text. The action is illustrated with large pictures that show all of the accidental mischief that Heihei and Pua get into.

Pua and Heihei uses familiar characters and full-page illustrations to engage young readers. The story is intended for preschool through kindergarten readers, but older readers will also enjoy the story. The plot is easy to understand and the colorful illustrations will help readers understand the story’s events. Fans of Disney will enjoy stepping into Moana’s tropical world and laugh as Pua and Heihei cause all sorts of silly trouble.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Fish Girl

Who is Fish Girl?

She lives in a tank in a boardwalk aquarium. She is the main attraction, though visitors never get more than a glimpse of her.

She has a tail. She can’t walk, but she can speak. She can make friends with Livia, an ordinary girl, and can yearn for a life that includes yoga and pizza. She can grow stronger and braver. With determination, a touch of magic, and the help of a loyal octopus, Fish Girl can do anything.

When Livia meets Fish Girl, she is determined to get to know her new friend. Due to Livia’s curiosity, Fish Girl learns the truth about her origins and the falsehoods that Neptune, her captor, has told. Livia’s friendship gives Fish Girl the inspiration and courage to go against Neptune’s rules.

Fish Girl’s journey comes to life in beautiful watercolor illustrations, drawn in blue hues. While most of the conversation appears in white quote bubbles, Fish Girl’s thoughts appear in square boxes, which helps readers distinguish the speakers. Each page has 6 or fewer sentences, which are written with easy-to-understand vocabulary.

This graphic novel beautifully portrays the power of friendship. When Fish Girl is in danger, the octopus helps protects her. In addition, with Livia’s help, Fish Girl realizes she has the power to free herself from her captor’s grasp. The amazing illustrations of Livia’s underwater home show an array of sea creatures. Fish Girl’s facial expressions will also help readers understand her emotions.

Fish Girl will appeal to many readers because of the high interest in mermaids. The themes of friendship and freedom will also resonate with readers. Fish Girl’s compelling story, coupled with beautiful illustrations, makes Fish Girl a wonderful book to read. The simple plot and vocabulary will appeal to reluctant readers and the heartwarming conclusion will put a smile on readers’ faces.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Fish Girl goes to the boardwalk. A man begins to follow her, and he grabs her hair. He says, “You’ve got nice hair. . . C’mon. Let’s get out of here—” Fish Girl breaks free and runs.
  • A fisherman gets angry with Fish Girl and begins yelling at her. Her octopus friend grows larger and holds the man so Fish Girl can escape.
  • Fish Girl asks the ocean to destroy the aquarium. In response, the octopus grabs ahold of the building and pulls it towards the sea. “The ocean rises up, and sets the sea creatures free.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • When Fish Girl is in danger, the octopus grows into a giant like the kraken.
  • Fish Girl asks the ocean to destroy the aquarium in order to set the sea creatures free. After it’s destroyed, she says, “It’s dying down. You listened. Thank you, ocean.”

Spiritual Content

  • The fisherman who owns the aquarium pretends to be “Neptune, god of the seas and storms.”
  • The fisherman tells the Fish Girl that “the muses were lovely. They had the form of women and their voices were sweeter than anything anyone could ever dream of.”

 

Emerge

Lia Nautilus may be a Mermaid but she’s never lived in the ocean. War has ravaged the seven seas ever since the infamous Little Mermaid unleashed a curse that stripped the Mer of their immortality. Lia has grown up in a secret community of land-dwelling Mer hidden among Malibu’s seaside mansions. Her biggest problems are surviving P.E. and keeping her feelings for Clay Ericson in check. Sure, he’s gorgeous in that cocky leather jacket sort of way and he makes her feel like there’s a school of fish swimming in her stomach, but getting involved with a human could put Lia’s entire community at risk.

So it’s for the best that he’s dating that new girl, right? That is until Lia finds out she isn’t the only one at school keeping a potentially deadly secret. And this new girl? Her eyes are dead set on Clay, who doesn’t realize the danger he’s in. If Lia hopes to save him, she’ll have to get closer to Clay. Lia’s parents would totally flip if they found out she was falling for a human boy, but the more time she spends with him, the harder it is to deny her feelings. After making a horrible mistake, Lia decides to risk everything to stop Clay from falling in love with the wrong girl.

Lia and her family are descendants of the Little Mermaid, which gives the story an interesting connection to the fairy tale. In addition, one of the Mermaids is a siren and her ability to manipulate will leave readers on edge. Much of the dramatic tension in this story is saved for the multi-chapter conclusion that quickly builds suspense and ends with a surprising twist.

The Mers living on land rarely return to the ocean, which keeps the story one-dimensional. While Lia’s desire to do what is right is admirable, her inner struggle is predictable and tedious. Lia fantasizes about kissing Clay but knows it is forbidden for a Mer to love a human. While the story doesn’t describe anyone having sex, there is abundant talk about sex. The Mer world is accepting of promiscuous behavior both in and out of marriage as well as having sexual partners of both sexes.

Emerge starts out strong with many cute sayings from the Mer world. Unfortunately, Emerge uses teenage angst, a love triangle, and ancient potions to create a typical teen romance. The narrator, Lia, is the only well-developed character, but her inner dialogue is tedious. Readers who are looking for an interesting Mermaid story will find Emerge lacking in originality and over-focused on sexual desire. Readers looking for a unique, memorable story may want to leave Emerge on the shelf.

Sexual Content

  • Lia is upset when Clay and Mel, another Mermaid, begin dating. While shopping, “Mel gives me [Lia] a curious look before wrapping her arms around Clay’s neck and kissing him right there in the middle of the store, her hands tangling in his hair.”
  • Because Mermaids used to be immortal, “fidelity was never a requirement” and Mermaids would “roam periodically” and then return to their mate.
  • Lia’s twin sisters have “both had human hookups at parties.”
  • Lia often thinks about kissing Clay. At one point, Lia wonders if she should have dated Clay. “I could have gotten in a few glorious weeks of kissing Clay. What would it be like to be able to hold onto those strong arms . . . kiss that full smirky mouth?”
  • Mermaids need to learn how to make their tails turn into and stay legs. Originally, merfolk only needed legs when they had sex. When a young girl first gets her legs, someone says, “What you need to do is embrace your natural impulses: You don’t need to act on those urges—thinking about them will be enough.” Someone else says, “So, all you have to do is think slutty thoughts, and your legs will stay firmly in place.” The conversation goes on for three pages.
  • After talking to Clay, Lia says her sisters, “hook up with new guys at practically every party, and I’ve never had a real kiss.” As they continue to talk about relationships, Clay says, “When I’m kissing Mel, all I can think about is kissing her more.”
  • Clay’s girlfriend sirens him. Then, she “leans up to kiss him. Hunger gleams in his eyes. . . whatever he’s feeling right now, she’s forcing it on him.”
  • Lia walks Clay home. She “wants to run [her] fingers over the skin, explore his rich mahogany hairline. . . I wanted to know what it would be like to feel him, to taste him.” The scene is described over two pages.
  • While shopping for a bra, two girls talk about what type of bras and underwear their boyfriends like them to wear.
  • Lia’s twin sisters tell her that she can have sex with an underclassman because, “we haven’t tapped anyone younger than us, so the junior class is all yours.”
  • Lia goes to Clay’s house to work on a school project. “A slow kiss covers my shoulder, his lips firm and cool against my heated skin. . . He plants a trail of kisses across my shoulder, toward my throat. As soon as his lips make contact with my neck, a shudder runs through me and I want to grab him to me and hold him there forever.”
  • Lia’s cousin is conflicted because she is attracted to other girls. Lia thinks, “Before the curse, homosexuality. . . was accepted in Mer culture. Most Mermaids mated with Mermen, but Mermaids mating with Mermaids wasn’t uncommon, and neither was Mermen with Mermen.”
  • Lia is preparing to walk away from Clay and never see him again. Her “eyes meet his open, questioning ones, and I stop thinking. Grabbing two fistfuls of his shirt, I yank him up close to me. . . crash my lips against his. . . Then his lips part and I’m tasting him. . . My world becomes a whirlwind of supple lips and exploring tongue, of light stubble and sweet, gasping breath.” The scene is described over a page.

Violence

  • Lia’s family are descendants of the Little Mermaid, so the fairytale is retold. However, in this version, the Mermaids were cursed because of the Little Mermaid’s actions. “Merkind blamed her father the king for her mistake and executed him, throwing our entire society into a state of anarchy and war that’s lasted ever since.”
  • In the past, when a Mermaid “sirened” a man, which put him under a spell, the man was executed because “they couldn’t risk him telling other humans what had happened to him.”
  • Lia researches the history of sirens. One siren “ordered a man under her spell to gouge out his own eyes while she watched in amusement. . . a Mermaid who heard a bard singing on a ship off the coast of Tudor England and used his own song to siren him. . . she commanded him to sing and dance for her until he died of exhaustion.”
  • Before sirening was made illegal in the Mer World, sailors attacked a Mermaid, “in her anger, she screamed for their deaths, and each one of them jumped off the island’s cliff to a watery grave.”
  • A Merman commits suicide because “he couldn’t take the constant reminder that he was aging. That he wasn’t immortal.”
  • In a violent and deadly multi-chapter conclusion, Clay is kidnapped and Lia goes in search of him. Lia goes under the ocean and into Mer territory where she sees dead Mermen. “Permanent agony contorts each lifeless face. . . Bodies battered and bloody, limbs twisted at odd angles, fins hacked off.”
  • When Lia is looking for Clay, “someone grabs me from behind. . . I’m breathing in whatever noxious potion is on the kelp, and I’m growing dizzier by the second.” When Lia awakens, she sees Clay “bound and bloody.”
  • Lia’s captor “drags the tip of the dagger down [her] cheek and neck with just enough pressure that it must leave a line of raised, red skin in its wake.”
  • Lia and her captors fight. “With his other hand, he grabs the top of my fin and folds my tail back up into that painful bent position. I lash out with my arms, twist my torso around so I can hit him with my fists, and try to free my tail, but he stands firm against my attack.”
  • One of Clay’s captors stabs him in the stomach with a knife. Lia’s “eyes fly open in time to see Melusine twist the dagger deeper into Clay’s stomach. . . And now he’s screaming. Covering the wound with his hands.”
  • Lia’s captor tries to kill her. “His cold hands tighten around my throat, pressing both my windpipe and my gills shut. I can’t breathe.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • When Mermaids started living on land, there were “a few bar fights” because the Mer “weren’t used to the effects of liquor.”
  • Clay’s ex-girlfriend slips something into his drink. Lia finds Clay. “He convulses, his limbs smacking against the unforgiving pavement. Sweat pours down his face.” Later, Lia discovers Clay was given a love potion. “It would have performed its office successfully if the boy weren’t already under another form of Mer magic.”

Language

  • Damn is used three times. For example, when Lia’s cousin gets her legs, her cousin says, “Those are some damn sexy legs you got there, Aims.”
  • OMG and God are both used as an exclamation once.
  • Bitch is used 4 times. For example, a Mermaid asks, “Father, will it disrupt the ritual if I kill this meddling bitch before I take care of the human?”
  • Clay loses his balance and falls on “his grabbable ass.”
  • Someone tells Lia she will kiss Clay. Lia says, “Like hell I will!”
  • Pissed is used once.

Supernatural

  • Clay’s girlfriend is a siren. She uses her song to control him. When she sings, Clay’s “eyes are glazed over, like he’s lost in some dream world. The spark of intelligence, of awareness, is gone.”
  • Clay is kidnapped. Lia finds “ritualistic symbols line the walls in a translucent, sickly blue ink.” Later, she finds out that the symbols were part of a spell.
  • In order to save Clay’s life, a Merman gives him a potion. “All the blood smeared on Clay’s body slides across his skin and back into the wound! Even the red staining his boxers seeps upward along the fabric, back onto his torso, and into his body.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

Hannah

Hannah wants to be normal, but she’s not. The sea calls to her, and she can see a delicate tracing of scales on her legs. Billowing waves soothe her, but flat land makes her sick. She knows there’s something wild in her that’s different, wrong, and deeply thrilling.

Only one person seems to know who—or what—Hannah is. He’s a guest in the house where she works as a scullery girl and his fascinated gaze follows her. She doesn’t understand his terrifying allure, or her longing. But even as the mystery deepens, Hannah is sure of one thing. A sea of change is coming.

The first installment of the Daughters of the Sea Series focuses on Hannah, who doesn’t know that she is a mermaid. Much of the story focuses on the class distinction during the time period and the relationship between the serving class and the wealthy Boston family. While the running of a household is at times interesting, the story has little action. Instead, Hannah is trying to figure out why she is different than others and why the sea calls to her.

Readers looking for a book that explores the world of mermaids will be disappointed with Hannah’s story. There are too many plot points that are left unanswered. Hannah’s background is never explained and when Hannah meets a merman, the interaction borders on sexual harassment; at one point, the much older merman grabs Hannah and forces a kiss on her. While Hannah is occasionally an interesting character, some readers may find it difficult to relate to her struggles.

The long-winded descriptions, lack of plot development, and dysfunctional family dynamics make Hannah a difficult book to get through. Readers who enjoy historical fiction and want to learn more about the late 1800s may enjoy Hannah. However, if you are looking for a peek into the magical world of mermaids, you should bypass Hannah altogether.

Sexual Content

  • Lila has a crush on Mr. Wheeler. Lila’s sister says, “Lila wants to wear something that Mama says is much too daring for a girl her age. You know what I mean, Hannah, very naked-looking. I think she wants to look almost naked for Mr. Wheeler.”
  • Hannah goes out into the forest. When Mr. Wheeler follows her, she yells at him. “He suddenly stepped toward her. He wrapped his arms around her, pressing her to his chest. . . He was kissing her lips, crushing his face against hers. She was lost. She was adrift. She was happy.”

Violence

  • When her cat goes missing, Lila hits her sister and makes her bleed.
  • Lila goes into Hannah’s room at night. Hannah tries to lead her back to her room. “Lila’s eyes were wild. She was scratching at Hannah’s face and the cat suddenly came to life and pounced on her back. Hannah could feel the claws digging into her shoulders, close to the neck of the nightgown. . . The strings of Hannah’s pouch were cutting into her throat, and she was gasping for air. . . “
  • After Lila and her cat attack Hannah, Hannah runs into the ocean. Lila’s sister, Ettie, follows Hannah. When she sees the cat, Ettie throws a rock at it. Lila points to “a clump of blood-soaked sea lavender where Jade was sprawled. The cat’s head was twisted at an odd angle to its body. One side was bashed in and there was a mangled mash of fur and protruding bone.”
  • After Ettie kills the cat, Lila “exploded and hurled herself across the grass, knocking down her sister. His hand was reaching for a rock when Mr. Marston ran up and dragged her off Ettie.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • One of the workers asks the butler if he can “add two bottles of the sweet sherry to the wines and spirits order.”
  • Three men share some sherry.
  • While getting the summer cottage ready for their employers, the workers “slid the miniature wine bottles into the racks in the wine cellar.”
  • While serving dinner, the butler goes into the kitchen to get “two more bottles of wine.”
  • Lila is given a sedative: laudanum. The butler says, “Administered properly, it alleviates anxiety and induces sleep.” However, the cook disagrees with him and says, “Drugs, pure and simple. They might as well have sent her to an opium den.”

Language

  • Damn is used six times, usually referring to the cat. For example, the workers do not like the house cat. One of the workers says, “I’d like to wring that damn cat’s neck.”
  • My God is used as an exclamation once.
  • Someone says that Lila’s cat is “mean as cat’s piss.”
  • Someone calls Lila a “hell hag” and her cat a “hell cat.”

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • Occasionally Hannah prays. For example, when Hannah is taken away from Boston, she becomes sick. Hannah says, “I have prayed to God every night. I must go back. This land is not good for me.”
  • While applying for a job as a maid, Hannah prayed, “Let me just seem normal. Let me fit.”
  • While helping serve dinner, Hannah prays, “God do not let me spill this.”

 

 

02/01/2011   12+    336      5.3    3 worms    AR

Julián is a Mermaid

Every Saturday morning, Julián and his abuela go swimming. But the day Julián spies three women on the subway, everything changes. He is entranced by their beautiful hair, their swishy, shimmering mermaid gowns, and their total confidence. Each woman has a different body type, and each woman is uniquely beautiful. When Julián sees the women, his imagination dives into the ocean where he is free to be a mermaid surrounded by colorful sea creatures. In his imagination, Julián’s hair grows long and he glides around the sea with a beautiful pink tail.

When Julián goes back to his abuela’s house, all he can think of is becoming a mermaid himself. Using a vase of flowers, a tube of lipstick, and his abuela’s curtains, Julián dresses as a mermaid. When Julián’s abuela sees him, she scowls and then leaves the room. Julián worries he will be scolded, which is conveyed through his facial expressions. When Julián’s abuela returns, she gives him a beaded necklace and takes him to the beach where he joins a parade of people dressed as mermaids and other sea creatures.

Any child who has played dress-up will relate to Julián, whose definition of beauty comes from those around him. Jessica Love’s illustrations use soft browns and greens with a pop of color. Both Julián’s real world and imaginary world are portrayed with beauty. Jessica Love often allows the pictures to speak for themselves. Because many of the pages do not have words, readers will be able to imagine themselves in the story and let their imaginations roam.

Like many children, Julián is afraid of his abuela’s reaction. However, his abuela surprises him by not only adding to his mermaid costume, but also taking him to see others who are brave enough to parade around the beach in their own costumes. The vivid costumes include sea green mermaids, large colorful fish, as well as other sea creatures. The magic of Julián’s story is its ability to show readers the importance of accepting yourself and allowing your imagination to take you to unexpected places. In the end, it will remind parents of the importance of encouraging their children to express themselves, instead of scolding them for dressing outside of society’s norms. Like Julián, we should all believe that all it takes to be a mermaid is a little imagination and a beautiful tail.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Non

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Cascadia Saves the Day

Princess Cascadia has been working hard preparing for the Sand Sculpture Festival. When a huge whirlpool blows through Astoria, everything is ruined. The rest of the Royal Mermaid Rescue Crew helps clean up the city, but Cascadia is convinced that she can fix the festival herself.

Cascadia tries to fix the sand sculptures. In the dark of night, someone mysterious leaves gifts—a pile of shells and a pile of sand. Some of Cascadia’s friends think a sea fairy is leaving the gifts. Cascadia is curious, but she’s focused on saving the festival. She discovers that the whirlpool caused more damage than the merfolk thought.

Cascadia discovers that her favorite tradition isn’t the most important thing. She decides that it is more important to help a newfound friend. Several times, Cascadia “had a feeling that something wasn’t right.” The first time she feels this way, Cascadia ignored the feeling. But soon, she realizes that she must trust her instincts. However, Cascadia doesn’t only follow her instincts, she also takes time to solve problems by breathing and focusing.

The sweet story has cute black-and-white illustrations that help break up the text. Illustrations appear every 3-5 pages. Although the vocabulary isn’t difficult, the text-heavy pages and long sentences may be overwhelming for beginning readers. Cascadia Saves the Day will entertain those who have already transitioned to chapter books.

Young readers who dream of becoming a mermaid will enjoy the Mermaids to The Rescue series. Each book takes readers on an underwater adventure. During Cascadia’s adventure, readers will not only learn about working as a team, but they will also learn about bioluminescence and how animals adapt. Readers who are ready to jump into another underwater adventure should add Purrmaids by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen to their reading list.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • A storm goes through the merfolks’ village. “All around the castle, coral and sea plants were blown about. Some shells had been stripped off the sides of the castle.” One mermaid’s pet snail was missing.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • A seapony “conjured a few small whirlpools and swept up some of the trash.”
  • Cascadia finds the magical trident. When the magical gems are placed on the trident, “the trident shook in her [Cascadia’s] hand and started to glow. Beams of light shot out from it.” Now that the trident has been put back together, it will repel evil forces.

Spiritual Content

  • None

Lana Swims North

Princess Lana is excited to be learning at the Royal Mermaid Rescue Crew School, but she finds it hard to speak up in class, even when she knows the answers. She doesn’t have this problem with her friends. When she’s with them, the words come easily. But when her teacher asks her a question, she’s too frightened to speak.

Then Lana meets a horned creature named Spike, who has never seen a creature like himself. With Lana’s help, Spike discovers he’s a narwhal. Lana promises to help Spike find other narwhals. When they swim to the north, Spike finds his long-lost family and Lana finally finds the courage to speak up.

Lana’s story takes the reader inside of Lana’s home, to the surface where she meets humans who attend the Enchanted Pony Academy, and to the colder waters in the north. Lana’s family and friends encourage her to help Spike. In return, Lana convinces Spike that his dolphin friends and family should know where he is—even if they aren’t alike, they still care about each other. The characters display positive communication skills.

Lana helps Spike solve his problem. This allows Lana to understand that she can be a leader. She realizes, “I like spending time thinking, solving problems. It’s what I’m good at.” Lana recognizes that her skills would make her better at “solving problems that aren’t emergencies.” Even though Lana doesn’t think quickly on her feet, she can still be a helpful member of the Rescue Crew.

Lana Swims North will entertain those who have already transitioned to chapter books. Cute black-and-white illustrations help break up the text and appear every 3-5 pages. Although the vocabulary isn’t difficult, the text-heavy pages and long sentences may be overwhelming for beginning readers. Even though the mermaids look different on the cover, in the illustrations inside the book the mermaids look very similar. Lana and her family are the only characters that have dark skin and dark hair.

Any reader who has a difficult time speaking up in class will relate to Lana. As Lana travels to the north, readers get a glimpse of various sea creatures, including turtles, walruses, dolphins, and even a polar bear. Lana Swims North takes readers on a fun underwater adventure that teaches the importance of teamwork.

 The Mermaids to The Rescue series does not need to be read in order because each book focuses on a different mermaid princess. However, readers may want to read Scott’s Enchanted Pony Academy Series first because Lana visits the school during her travels.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • A polar bear shakes the ice. “Lana looked up and saw four huge black paws stalking across the ice above. It looked like they’d come crashing down on their heads at any moment. . . The bombing outside continued. Lana wondered what kind of enormous creature was stalking overhead, sending panic throughout the kingdom.” The merfolk hide.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • Darn is used once.

Supernatural

  • Each seapony has a different Sea Savvy, such as blowing a big protection bubble, blowing stun bubbles, or conjuring whirlpools. One seapony can change “color until she blended in with the background.” Another seapony can swim amazingly fast.
  • When Lana wraps her arms around her seapony, “they both faded into the colors of the coral behind them, disappearing from view.”
  • Lana and some of her friends go to the surface to talk to the humans from the Enchanted Pony Academy. A magical pony casts a spell. She says, “Open the book so we can look!” The book “floated out of her saddlebag and opened in front of her.”
  • When the mermaid can’t read the book, a magical pony “used her magic to float the book closer to the river.”
  • While looking for a shell, a mermaid says, “This is a spell to find the lost shell.” The spell doesn’t work.

Spiritual Content

  • None

Nixie Makes Waves

Nixie is excited to join the Royal Mermaid Rescue Crew. She wants to use her natural creativity to keep the sea safe! And soon she will select her seapony partner! But Nixie is worried that she won’t find a good match.

Nixie isn’t happy when she is matched with Rip. Rip may be super-speedy, but he’s also a brainy pony who strictly follows all rules. Nixie doesn’t want to hurt Rip’s feelings, but she isn’t sure if she should go through with the Selection Ceremony. Once the ceremony is complete, Nixie and Rip will be partners forever.

When Nixie’s friends send her a distress call, she sneaks off without Rip. She knows that Rip would try to talk her out of helping her friends. But Rip decides to follow Nixie, and in the end, he is able to help rescue Nixie’s friends. Nixie and Rip finally learn to understand each other and appreciate their differences.

The mermaids and magical seaponies live in a sparkly world where princesses learn how to be part of the Royal Mermaid Rescue Crew. Like many young girls, the princesses love pretty dresses, jewelry, and each other. Nixie and Rip are not well-developed, but readers will relate to the two as they struggle to work as a team. They both want to help others, but they go about helping in vastly different ways.

Rip comes across as bossy because he loves to follow the rules. On the other hand, Nixie uses the “swishing a fix” method to creatively solve problems. When trying to solve a problem, Nixie knows she must breathe, focus, and solve. Both Rip and Nixie learn the importance of working together instead of working against each other.

Any young reader who has had to work in a group will understand Nixie’s conflict. In the end, Nixie is surprised to learn that Rip is her perfect partner. The two realize that both rules and creativity are needed when solving a problem. The story’s actions are illustrated with cute black-and-white pictures. The pictures help with world-building. Even though the mermaids look different on the cover—Nixie is light skin and has purple hair—in the illustrations, the mermaids look very similar.

During her adventures, Nixie finds the magical blue sea diamond that was part of the Trident of Protection. Even though a different part of the trident is found in each of the books, this part of the plot seems like an afterthought and does nothing to advance the plot.

Nixie Makes Waves will entertain those who have already transitioned to chapter books. Cute black-and-white illustrations help break up the text and appear every 3-5 pages. Although the vocabulary isn’t difficult, the text-heavy pages and long sentences may be overwhelming for beginning readers. Readers may want to read Scott’s Enchanted Pony Academy Series first because the stories explain the selection process and magical powers in more detail. Nixie Makes Waves will delight young readers as it teaches problem-solving techniques.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Each seapony has a different Sea Savvy, such as blowing a big protection bubble, blowing stun bubbles, or conjuring whirlpools. One seapony can change “color until she blended in with the background.” Another seapony can swim amazingly fast.
  • The school’s headmaster explained how “years ago, the powerful magic of our worlds was weakened by careless spells, both in the earth kingdoms and here below the sea. During this Age of Recklessness, a deep rift formed, splitting the eastern and western waters.” The storm swept away the Trident of Protection, which brought the community safety.
  • A seapony casts a spell to illuminate a rock. He says, “Let this rock glow, bright light please show.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

Seasick Sea Horse

Shelly always has to share everything. At home, she shares with her sister. At school, she shares with her best friends, but sometimes she just does not want to share. When Ms. Harbor shows the class the new class pet, a sea horse, the students are excited to take care of it. When Shelly is chosen to take the sea horse home, she is excited that the pet will be her responsibility. But Shelly’s two friends also want to help take care of the sea horse. Shelly tells her friends that they can’t help, but taking care of a sea horse is harder than Shelly thought it would be. Will Shelly’s friends be angry with her? Can she take care of the class pet without any help?

A fun and entertaining story, Seasick Sea Horse focuses on the importance of taking care of the ocean and the creatures that make the ocean their home. Ms. Harbor tells the class, “It is important for purrmaids to learn how to treat the creatures we encounter in our ocean.” Throughout the story, the reader will learn several interesting facts about sea creatures as well as the importance of picking up trash so it does not end up hurting sea life. When the purrmaids need more information about sea horses, they go to the library and check out books so they can research sea horses.

Seasick Sea Horse also reinforces the idea that something does not always need to be done the same way. For example, when Shelly’s friend cuts salad ingredients differently than Shelly, the salad still tastes good. Shelly needs to learn that “you can be in charge and let other purrmaids help you.” The story highlights that purrmaids often need help in order to get everything done.

Seasick Sea Horse is perfect for readers who are able to read chapter books. The story has easy vocabulary, short sentences, and cute black-and-white illustrations approximately every three pages. Younger readers will enjoy the cat puns and sea similes that are incorporated into the story, like “fin-tastic,” “cat-tastrophe,” and “big as an orca.” Even though Seasick Sea Horse is part of a series, the stories do not have to be read in order. The Purrmaid series takes readers on an underwater swim that teaches valuable lessons as well as entertains.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

The Catfish Club

Coral, Shelly, and Angel love to do everything together. They are excited to be in the same class. When their teacher assigns an art project, the girls know they will be partners. When they go to an art museum, they get in an argument with three other girls—the members of the Catfish Club. Coral, Shelly, and Angel, and the Catfish Club both think they can create a purr-fect project that their teacher will love.

Angel lets anger get the best of her and makes a bet. If the teacher likes her group’s project the best, the Catfish Club has to give her their purple pearl necklaces, and if the teacher likes the Catfish Club’s project best, Angel has to give them her purple pearl earrings. Angel is afraid that she will lose the earrings that were a special present. Will Angel and her friends be able to find a way out of this mess?

The Catfish Club uses a relatable conflict—mean girls and wanting to be first—in a story that will captivate younger readers. Angel, who cares about fashion, also gets angry easily. Angel loves her friends and thinks they are “fin-tastic friends.” However, her group of friends doesn’t get along with the Catfish Club, a group of three friends. At one point, Angel thinks, “I wish I hadn’t lost my temper and made that bet.” As the story progresses, the reader will learn about the importance of working together and the dangers of anger.

Readers will also learn about art. The story teaches that art can be found in unlikely places. The author takes some famous artists and changes their names to fit the purrmaid world. For example, the teacher talks about Pablo Picatso, and Vincent Fang Gogh. The story shows that when it comes to art, it’s important to try new things. Ms. Harbor explains, “The artist didn’t worry about what others told them to do. They didn’t follow the rules. They followed their hearts!”

The Catfish Club uses relatable conflicts to teach about the importance of being kind and working together. The story shows that purrmaids do not have to have the same qualities in order to be friends. Besides the relatable conflicts, younger readers will also enjoy the cat puns and sea similes that are incorporated into the story. For example, purr-ty, cat-tastrophe, and big as a blue whale. The puns are a little bit over the top, and although younger readers may enjoy them, parents might want to avoid reading The Catfish Club aloud.

The Catfish Club is perfect for readers who are able to read chapter books. The story has easy vocabulary, short sentences, and cute black-and-white illustrations approximately every three pages. The Catfish Club is part of a series, but the stories do not need to be read in order even though the story has some of the same characters and a similar conclusion to the previous books. Readers who like the Pet Fairies series will also find the Purrmaid series purr-fect. The Catfish Club uses adorable purrmaids to teach younger readers that, “If we work together, I know we can create a masterpiece.”

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

The Scaredy Cat

Coral, Shelly, and Angel are best friends. They are excited about meeting their new teacher on the first day of school. Their teacher asks the kids to bring something special to share with the class. The three friends decide that they need to search Tortoise-shell Reef to find something special enough to share. Coral is anxious about going to the reef because it is on the edge of the cove. However, she agrees to go because it’s important to her friends.

When the purrmaids get to the reef, Coral’s friends discover that she doesn’t know how to complete flips. Angel and Shelly are eager to teach Coral a new skill, but soon they have flipped so many times that they don’t know where they are! Can the three friends find their way home? Can Coral learn to be brave?

The Scaredy Cat mixes kittens and mermaids in a story about friendship that will have younger readers enthralled. The unique idea and the adorably cute black-and-white illustrations will draw readers to the book. The story focuses on the purrmaids’ homework assignment as well as Coral’s cautious attitude. When the group goes to Tortoise-shell Reef, Coral shows bravery several times; each time her friends are in danger, Coral jumps in to protect them. The story highlights the importance of trying new things, but also of being cautious.

As part of the adventure, Coral meets a misunderstood catshark named Chomp. The shark gives the story an added dose of danger. After she gets to know him, she learns that he isn’t dangerous. Chomp complains that “Catsharks always get a bad rap. Everyone in the ocean thinks we’re out to eat them!” Coral is able to learn that it is wrong to judge a shark just because he’s a shark.

The Scaredy Cat is perfect for readers who are able to read chapter books. The story has easy vocabulary, short sentences, and cute black-and-white illustrations approximately every three pages. Younger readers will enjoy the cat puns that appear often, like “cat-tastrophe,” “paw-sitive,” and “purr-omise.” The puns are a little bit over the top, and although younger readers may enjoy them, parents might want to avoid reading The Scaredy Cat aloud.

Readers who like the Pet Fairies series will also find the Purrmaid series purr-fect. While the Pet Fairies series has a non-scary villain, the Purrmaid series focuses more on friendship and the quest for the perfect item to share with the class. The Scaredy Cat will delight younger readers, who will want to read every book in the series because the stories are so much fun. The satisfying conclusion will have readers squealing in joy as the story shows that friendship is the best gift of all.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 Rogue Wave

Four thousand years ago an ancient evil destroyed Atlantis. This evil is stirring again, and it will take six mermaids—Serafina, Neela, Ling, Ava, Becca, and Astrid—to defeat it. The mermaids are descendants of the Six Who Ruled—powerful mages who once governed Atlantis. In order to defeat this evil, the mermaids must find the magical talismans that belonged to the six.

Serafina mourns the loss of her betrothed—the traitor who is working for the man who destroyed her realm. But Serafina doesn’t have time to mourn; she must research the location of the talisman and discover its hidden location before anyone else can. While following leads, she must avoid death riders, who have been ordered to capture her.

Neela travels to her home realm, Matali, to warn her parents of the impending danger. However, her parents don’t believe her outlandish story and confine her to her chamber so she can rest and recover. Neela needs to escape so she can find a talisman, which is in the possession of the fierce razor mouth dragons. As they hunt for the talismans, both Serafina and Neela need to rely on courage, cunning, and their allies. Can they endure danger, defeat death, and discover the secret locations of the talismans?

Rogue Wave, the second book in the Waterfire Saga, is full of action, intrigue, and a hint of romance. Even though the first book, Deep Blue, focuses on bringing the six mermaids together, none of the mermaids work together in the second book. Instead, Rogue Wave jumps back and forth between Serafina and Neela, as they both look for a talisman. Often one mermaid’s experience would end with a cliffhanger, and then jump to the other mermaid’s story.

Despite the interesting mermaid world, many of the events were extremely unrealistic. One minute Serafina is a strong, brave girl ready to face down evil, and the next minute, she makes rash decisions that make no sense. Instead of connecting with Serafina, some readers may find the whinny, impulsive mermaid hard to relate to. On the other hand, many readers will relate to Neela, who tries to cope with difficulties with eating sweets. Neela’s parents are more concerned with Neela’s appearance than anything else. Neela has been taught that as royalty, she must always look pretty wearing jewels. Readers will root for Neela as she tries to break out of her parents’ mold.

Rogue Wave continues the intrigue that began in book one. As Serafina travels looking for the talisman, she meets an interesting Spanish princess and is reunited with her betrothed. Serafina hopes to defeat evil and help her realm; however, she is unwilling to accept the obvious and naively ignores clues that prove some people plotted against her mother. Younger readers may enjoy the mermaid world and the intrigue, but more advanced readers will have a difficult time believing Serafina can become a strong leader. The conclusion of Rogue Wave reveals an important plot twist, and readers will want to read the third book in the series, Dark Tide, to discover how the other mermaids fit into the complicated plan of saving the mermaid realm.

Sexual Content

  • As part of a disguise, Serafina uses a spell to give her an enormous bosom. Serafina complained, “It looks like I have two sea mounts stuck on the front of me. . . All I can see is my chest.” Her friend says the goal is to make the soldiers focus on her bosom, “not the face.”
  • Mahdi and Serafina kiss. “And then she was in his arms and his lips were on hers, silently telling her who he was. Hers. Always. And for a moment there was no safe house, no danger, no grief. All she knew was the heat of his kiss and the feel of his heart beating under her hand.”
  • The ghost of a Spanish princess tells Serafina about a pirate trying to capture her. The ghost says, “I vowed I would not be taken. I was a princess of Spain, meant to be wife to a French prince, not a wench to warm a pirate’s bed.”
  • Mahdi tells Serafina that he has kissed another girl but that it meant nothing.
  • Serafina and Mahdi get married, and Mahdi “cupped Sera’s face in his hands and kissed her, and Sera kissed him back, forgetting there were others nearby.”
  • After Sera and Mahdi are married, as part of his secrete identity, he becomes betrothed to another.

Violence

  • Serafina goes to Atlantis, where the Opafango live. Someone warns her, “The Opafango eat their victims alive. . . while their hearts are still beating and their blood’s still pumping.”
  • Serafina ties a man up.
  • When a soldier comes into a room, Serafina threw a dagger at him. His arm was “immobilized because her dagger had pinned his sleeve to the door.” The soldier is uninjured.
  • A villain tortures people to get information. “Four days ago, he cut a finger off a child—a child, Sera—to make her mother tell him where her father was hiding. I saw him do it.”
  • Someone tells Serafina about the raids that have been taking place. “Some of the villagers must’ve tried to fight. There were bloodstains on the wall and floors of the houses. They scribbled notes and left them behind. Please tell my wife . . . Please help us . . . They’ve got my children. . .”
  • Death riders attack a safe house. Serafina uses a spell and “the explosion was instantaneous. The concussive force was so great, it shook the ground. . . she heard the impact of debris as it was flung against the iron and the bubbling and hissing of lava.” Someone tells her, “No one could survive a blast like that.” The scene takes place over two chapters. Most of the scene is running from the death riders.
  • Someone captures Serafina in a net, but lets her go when they discover she is one of them.
  • Someone tells Serafina about a man’s experiences with soldiers. “Traho’s soldiers beat him so badly, he lost consciousness. They left him for dead.” Someone found the man and took him to safety, but the soldiers “were rounding everyone up. . . My dad tried to fight them off, but they beat him up.”
  • The ghost of a Spanish princess explains how she died. A pirate “locked me in my cabin. He boarded his ship and gave orders to bombard my vessel. . . I can still hear the cannon shot. I can smell the gunpowder. I faced death bravely, as a princess of Spain must. . . Drowning is not an easy death.”
  • Neela and several others try to take a moonstone from a dragon’s nest. A baby dragon clawed her. “A swipe of pain across her back, sudden and blinding, made her scream. She dropped the moonstone. . . Blood rose from the jagged tears in Neela’s skin, curling through the water.” When Neela and the others try to leave the dragon’s lair, a baby dragon screeches and the father comes after them. The dragon knocks a girl down and “was advancing on her now, lashing his tail, baring his horrible teeth.” The group flees, and when the dragons follow, the mermaids lead dragons to a bloom of jellyfish. The scene takes place over 7 pages.
  • A woman “nodded at two of her guards and they sized the grand vizier. She drew a crimson-tipped finger across her throat and they dragged him away.”
  • During the introduction of the new regime, goblins patrol the crowds. A merman was “cheering halfheartedly. A goblin noticed, and punched him.”A human captures a mermaid and wants information. “His right hand was bloodied. Across from him was a mermaid bound to a chair with a rope. Blood dripped off her chin. Her head lolled on her chest. . . The mermaid lifted her head and spat out a mouthful of blood. Her lip was split. One of her eyes was swollen shut.” The man tells her, “I’d like to kill you, I’d like that very much. . . Unfortunately, I can’t. You’re valuable to me and you know it.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Serafina uses a potion to put a group of men to sleep.
  • Mahdi tells Seraphina about his partying and playing a beer game.

Language

  • Someone calls Serafina an “idiot girl.”
  • Serafina calls a man a “lumpsucker.”
  • Several times, someone is referred to as “sea scum.”
  • “My gods” is used as an exclamation several times.
  • Hell is used twice. Someone tells Serafina death riders are coming and to “Get the hell out of here.”
  • A death rider calls his companion a “dumbwrasse.”

Supernatural

  • Some mermaids have magic. “Magic depended on so many things—the depth of one’s gift, experience, dedication, the position of the moon, the rhythm of the tides, the proximity of whales. It didn’t settle until one was fully grown.”
  • Serafina and several other mermaids cast a bloodbind spell, which required them to mix their blood. The mermaids now share each other’s powers. For example, Serafina can now understand other ocean creatures’ languages.
  • Some ghosts live in mirrors. An unknown evil man tries to use the mirror to get to Serafina. He watches Serafina through a mirror, but “Long, jagged cracks, running through the glass like a network of veins, held him back now. The spaces between the cracks were too small to fit his body through but large enough for his hand. Slowly, silently, they pushed through the mirror, hovering only inches from the mermaid. It would be so easy to wrap them around her slender neck and end what the Iele had started. But, no, the man thought, drawing back.”
  • The ghosts, vitrine, that live in mirrors “stayed within the bounds of their own mirrors; others wandered through the realm. Some spoke to the living, others refused to. There was, however, one all were bound by: when a vitrina’s own mirror was broken, the soul was released from the glass.”
  • While in the mirror realm, Serafina meets Rorrim, who feeds off of dankling. Rorrim explains, “It’s a little piece of fear. They burrow into backbones. A few of them will infest a nice strong spine, and then as the bones weaken, more come. . . There’s nothing, absolutely nothing, as tasty as fear. Doubt is delectable, of course. Insecurities, anxieties—all delicious, but fear? Oh, fear is exquisite!”
  • Serafina uses a bloodsong, and “even after four thousand years, the blood came to life under Sera’s hand. It brightened as if newly spilled, then spun up from the floor in a violent crimson vortex. The mermaids heard a voice. And then another. And more. Until there were dozens of them. Screaming. Sobbing. Pleading. Shrieking.”
  • In order to create an escape route, Serafina uses a vortex spell to make pikes burst.
  • Several times throughout the story mermaids use transparensea pearls. “The songspell of invisibility used shadow and light and was notoriously difficult to cast. Spellbinders—highly skilled artisans—knew how to insert the spell into pearls that a mermaid could carry with her and deploy in an instant.”
  • Serafina meets the ghost of a Spanish princess. Serafina agrees to take the princess back to Spain. The princess took Serafina’s hand “and Serafina arched her back, gasping. It was as if the ghost had reached inside her and wrapped a cold hand around her heart.” When the princess got to an island off of Spain, “Her body glittered now, became a million points of silver light, and then crumbled into a fine, shimmering dust. As Serafina watched, the warm Spanish winds swept her away, until all that remained was the echo of her laughter.” However, Serafina was exhausted because “the ghost had taken too much from her.” Serafina’s friends find her and help her recover.
  • Orfeo appears even though he has been dead for four thousand years.

Spiritual Content

  • Morsa, the scavenger goddess of the dead, can change forms and practices necromancy, “the forbidden art of conjuring the dead.”
  • When someone dies, a priest places a white pearl under the person’s tongue to catch the soul as it left the body. Horok—the ancient coelacanth, the Keeper of the Soul—would take the pearl and carry it to the underworld.
  • When Orfeo’s wife died, he built a temple for Morsa and summoned the goddess. Morsa gave Orfeo power, and he sacrificed people for Morsa. At first, he sacrificed “those without families in Atlantis, those who wouldn’t be missed. Then he came for us. He came at night. . . Orfeo gave her death, and in return, she gave him her forbidden knowledge. It made him so powerful that he created Abbadon and declared he would use the monster to march on the underworld” and take his wife back.
  • When Neela finds a sweet, she says, “Oh, thank gods!”

Deep Blue

Serafina has always known that she will eventually rule her nation, located deep in the Mediterranean Sea. She needs to prepare for her Dokimí, when she will be introduced to the Mer people as their future ruler and will announce her future husband. But rather than worrying about her Dokimí, Serafina is obsessed with the strange dreams of sea witches that have been haunting her.

Everything changes when, during her Dokimí, a poisoned assassin’s arrow strikes her mother, and her father is killed. Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin’s master and prevent a war between the Mer nations. Along the way, Seraphina will meet five other mermaids; will the six mermaids be able to discover who is behind the conspiracy that threatens the Mer world?

Many readers will pick up Deep Blue because of the beautiful cover image of a mermaid; however, the story is not as intriguing as the cover photo. The mermaid world has a complicated history and a confusing number of characters (both gods, humans, and mermaids). Much of the mermaid world is mundanely similar to the human world and there are overly long descriptions of clothing. Another negative aspect of the story is the main character Serafina, as her character is inconsistent. In some scenes, she is fearful and runs from danger. Other times Serafina shows bravery, but that bravery makes her make stupid choices that endanger others. Serafina never takes the advice of more knowledgeable mermaids, even when she should.

Throughout the story, six mermaids must meet and make it to the sea witches’ lair. The six mermaids eventually find each other; however, readers will question how the mermaids come together at exactly the right landmarks that lead to the witches’ lair. The action slows down considerably as the characters talk about the history of the mermaids and much of the dialogue feels stilted.

In the end, Deep Blue is a typical story about a beautiful princess who loses everything including her parents. She takes a difficult journey, which teaches her some important lessons. Serafina must learn not to believe other people’s cruel remarks and that everyone makes mistakes. She also must overcome fear. Vrăja tells her, “You fear you will fail at the very thing you were born for. And your fear torments you, so you try to swim away from it. Instead of shunning your fear, you must let it speak and listen carefully to what it’s trying to tell you. It will give you good counsel.”

Even though the story has some positive messages, Deep Blue will leave readers slightly confused, disappointed, and wondering why anyone would want the whiny Serafina to rule their realm. Readers looking for a good mermaid book may want to try Atlantia by Ally Condie instead.

Sexual Content

  • Serafina overhears a conversation about her fiancé’s girlfriends.
  • When a mean girl tells Serafina that her fiancé has a girlfriend, Serafina says she isn’t upset because “I just hope she’s done a good job with him. Taught him a few dance strokes or how to send a proper love conch. Someone has to. Merboys are like hippokamps, don’t you think? No fun until they’re broken in.”
  • Serafina thinks back to when her fiancé kissed her. “It was lovely, that kiss. Slow and sweet.”
  • She finds her fiancé and one of his friends “lying on their backs. Mahdi had a purple scarf tied around his head and a smudged lipstick kisses on his cheek. . .” Someone had drawn a lipstick smiley face on Mahdi’s friend.
  • A merboy says that “Merl’s so hot, she melts my face off.”
  • Three human girls continue to fight over a boy, even though the girls are dead. Someone explains, “Must be something irresistible about rivers to sad girls. They just have to throw themselves into them. I’ve seen a lot of river ghosts.”

Violence

  • A man grabs an eel and “bit into it. The creature writhed in agony. Its blood dripped down his chin. He swallowed the eel. . .”
  • In the past “Kalumnus had tried to assassinate Merrow and rule in her stead. He’d been captured and beheaded, and his family banished.”
  • During a ceremony, men attack. An arrow “came hurling through the water and lodged in her mother’s chest. . . Her mother’s chest was heaving; the arrow was moving with every breath she took. It had shattered her breastplate and pierced her left side. Isabella touched her fingers to her wound. They came away crimson. . . The assassin, barely visible in the dark waters, fired. The arrow buried itself in Bastian’s chest. He was dead by the time his body hit the seafloor.” Both of Serafina’s parents are killed as well as many merfolk.
  • As the invaders try to capture Serafina, they blow up a wall. Serafina “looked up, still dazed, just in time to see a large chunk of the stateroom’s east wall come crashing down. Courtiers screamed as they rushed to get out of the way. Some didn’t make it and were crushed by falling stones. Others were engulfed by flames ignited by lava pouring from broken heating pipes buried inside the wall.” Serafina is able to run away.
  • The invaders use a dragon in their attack. “The dragon bashed her head against the palace wall and another large chunk of it fell in . . . the dragon knocked more of the wall down. The creature pulled her head out of the hole she’d made, and dozens of soldiers, all clad in black, swam inside. The leader pointed toward the throne . . . Arrows came through the water . . . Isabella spotted a dagger next to the corpse of a fallen Janiҫari. She conjured a vortex in the water, and sent the knife hurtling at the invaders’ leader. The dagger hit home, knocking him to the floor.” The Janiҫari “gurgled, drowning in his own blood.”
  • When Serafina and her friend were hiding in a cave, a merman appeared demanding “rent for staying in his cave. He signaled to the morays. They swam to the mermaids and began divesting them of their jewelry. . . One of the eels had dropped the necklace he’d taken from Serafina and had thrust his head down the front of her gown to retrieve it. Sera, lashing her tail furiously, caught another eel with her fins, and sent him spinning into a wall. He hit the stone hard and fell to the cave’s floor, motionless. The other eels were on her immediately, snarling. Tiberius sank his teeth into her tail fin. Sera screamed again, and tried to pull away.” The mermaids are sold to soldiers.
  • Soldiers capture Serafina and her friend. “They shackled Serafina’s wrists with iron cuffs and blindfolded her. They forced an iron gag into her mouth and wrapped a net around her. Then, one of the soldiers slung her over the back of his hippokamp and rode fast. . . The ride was agony. The net’s filament bit into Sera’s skin. The gag, with its bitter taste of metal, made her retch.” When they arrive at their destination, Serafina and her friend are put in prison with another mermaid. “Her face was bruised. She held her manacled hands close to her chest. Blood swirled above them, pulsing from the stump of bone where her left thumb used to be.”
  • While in prison, Serafina and her friends are immobilized with a metal collar that is padlocked to the wall. Serafina sees her friend, who was “chained to another pole only a few feet away. Her eye was swollen and bruised. Her skin was a sickly gray-blue.”
  • A merman frees Serafina and her friends from prison. During the break-out, “the guard’s throat had been cut. He was arching his back, flailing his tail. His eyes, pleading and desperate, found Sera’s. She gasped and backed away.”
  • While Serafina and her friend are hiding out, men appear and try to capture them. A man points a spear gun at Serafina. “Luckily, the duca lunged at the man and grabbed his arm. The gun went off. Trailing a thin nylon line, the spear hit a wall and fell into the water. . . the duca threw a punch at him, but he deflected it, grabbed the duca, and hurled him against a wall. The duca crashed to the floor, motionless.” Two mako sharks are mortally wounded. A merman who was helping Serafina was shot with a spear gun. The speargun hit “with a sickening thunk and exited his body under his collarbone. His attacker yanked on the line attached to the spear, pulling the cruel, barbed head into his flesh.” Later Serafina learns that several were killed during the fight. The scene takes place over five pages.
  • When Serafina enters the mirror realm, Rorrim tries to keep her there. When Serafina tries to leave, “He grabbed her hair and yanked her back. The pain was electric. She screamed and tried to pull away, but he only tightened his grip.” Serafina cuts off her hair and is able to escape.
  • Serafina’s friend, Ling, gets caught in a fishing net. When she is caught, Seraphina sees Ling’s “eyes wild with terror, mouth open in a scream.” Ling’s friends are able to free her.
  • As Serafina and her friends are traveling, they see “on the seabed below, maybe twenty feet off the ship’s port side, were bodies. At least a dozen of them. . . They were dead. Some were lying on their backs, others facedown. Some had the kind of open, gaping wounds that were made by a spear gun. Others had bruises on their faces.”
  • When Serafina sat against a tree, “she was jerked against the tree roots. She heard a snarl and smelled a gut-wrenching stench. She screamed and tried to pull away, but was pulled back.” Serafina’s friend took out her blade. “The blade came down to the right of Sera’s head. An instant later, she was free. . . and a human arm was lying on the ground. She whirled around to see what had attacked her. It was a terragogg. Or what was left of him. He was dead . . .” Someone had used forbidden magic to “reanimate the human dead and make them do their bidding.”
  • Three river witches are in a circle, casting a spell to keep a monster in his cage. “Blood streaked the lips of one, and dripped from the nose of another. Bruises mottled the face of a third. Sera could see that the magic cost them dearly. . .the monster grabbed the witch by her throat. She screamed in pain as its nails dug into her flesh. It jerked her forward, breaking her grip on the incanti at either side of her. The waterfire went out.” Serafina and her friends try to help the witches. “With a warrior’s roar, she (Astrid) swung her sword at the monster, the muscles in her strong arms rippling. The blade came down on one of its outstretched arms and cut off a hand. The monster shrieked in pain and fled into the depths of its prison.” The scene takes place over five pages.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Serafina’s fiance, Mahdi, is rumored to be a party boy.

Language

  • “Good gods” and “Oh gods” are used as an exclamation several times throughout the book.
  • The villain and his soldiers are often referred to as sea scum.

Supernatural

  • Some mermaids have magic. “Magic depended on so many things—the depth of one’s gift, experience, dedication, the position of the moon, the rhythm of the tides, the proximity of whales. It didn’t settle until one was fully grown.”
  • Magic is used throughout the story. One spell is a vello spell. The mermaid said, “Waters blue, Hear me cast, Rise behind us, Make us fast!”
  • The story has several human ghost that live inside mirrors. “Ghosts lived inside it—vitrina—souls of beautiful, vain humans who’d spent too much time gazing into it. The mirror had captured them. Their bodies had withered and died, but their spirits lived on, trapped behind the glass forever.”
  • A witch uses a mirror to beckon Serafina. When Serafina looks at the mirror, she raised her hand slowly, as if in a trance.” Someone else enters the mirror, and the witch leaves.
  • Serafina and other mermaids can use songspells. “Canta mirus was a demanding type of magic that called for a powerful voice and a great deal of ability. . . Mirus casters could bind light, wind, water, and sound. The best could embellish existing songspells or create new ones.”
  • A mermaid can cast a bloodsong which shows someone else their memories. When a mermaid causes herself to bleed, “the crimson swirled through the water like smoke in the air, then coalesced into images. As it did, Serafina saw the bloodsong—the memories that lived in her teacher’s heart.”
  • Several times throughout the story mermaids use transparensea pearls. “The songspell of invisibility used shadow and light and was notoriously difficult to cast. Spellbinders—highly skilled artisans—knew how to insert the spell into pearls that a mermaid could carry with her and deploy in an instant.”
  • In order to help Serafina and her friend escape, a mermaid uses magic. “She pulled wind down into the water and spiraled giant vortexes one after another, until she’d raised a wall of spinning typhoons. She was no longer a mere mermaid. She was a storm system, a category five. And she was bearing down on the enemy.”
  • In order to escape, Serafina and her friend go through a mirror, where thousands of ghosts live. Many of the ghosts in the mirror realm are lifeless because they, “craved admiration. They become listless without it.” While in the mirror realm, Serafina meets Rorrim, who feeds off of dankling. Rorrim explains, “It’s a little piece of fear. They burrow into backbones. A few of them will infest a nice strong spine, and then as the bones weaken, more come. . . There’s nothing, absolutely nothing as tasty as fear. Doubt is delectable, of course. Insecurities, anxieties—all delicious, but fear? Oh, fear is exquisite!”
  • One mermaid was omnivoxa and could speak and understand any language.
  • A river witch uses a bloodsong to show Atlantis being destroyed. “People ran shrieking through the streets of Elysia, the capital, as the ground trembled and buildings fell around them. Bodies were everywhere. Smoke and ash filled the air. Lava flowed down a flight of stone steps. A child, too small to walk, sat at the bottom of them, screaming in terror, her mother dead beside her.” The story is retold over four pages.
  • The sea witches teach Serafina and her companions magic. One mermaid cast a spell trying to make waterfire. “Whirl around me/Like a gyre, /This I ask you, /Ancient fire. /Hot blue flames, /Throw your heat, /Cause my enemy/To retreat.”
  • One of the mermaids has the power of prophecy and sees visions of the future.
  • Serafina and her companions perform darksong. “Canta malus was said to have been a poisonous gift to the mer from Morsa, in mockery of Neria’s gifts. The invocation of the malus spells could get the caster imprisoned: the clepio spells, used for stealing; a habeo, which took control of another’s mind or body; the nocérus, used to cause harm; and the nex songspell which was used to kill.” A bloodbind is forever and if a mer breaks it, they die. The mermaids perform the bloodbind. The girls cut themselves and share their blood. “As the last notes of the songspell rose, the blood of all five mermaids spiraled together into a crimson helix and wrapped itself around their hands. Like the sea pulling the tide back to itself, their flesh summoned the blood’s return. It came, flowing back through the waters, back through the wounds. The slashed edges of their palms closed and healed.” The spell is described over four pages.
  • A witch tells the mermaids about silverfish who live in the mirror realm. “Tell it where you need to go, and it will take you.”

Spiritual Content

  • A witch, who is helping cast a spell says, “Gods help me!” As the witches are attempting to cast a spell, a witch says, “Come, devil, come. . . you’re near. . . I feel you.”
  • Serafina must face Alitheia. She is told, “The gods themselves made her. Bellogrim, the smith, forged her, and Neria breathed life into her. . . When Merrow was old and close to death, she wanted to make sure only her descendants ruled Miromara. So she asked the goddess of the sea, Neria, and Bellogrim, the god of fire, to forge a creature of bronze.” The creature must taste a meril’s blood to determine if she is a descendant of Merrow.
  • Serafina “prayed to the gods” that her magic would work.
  • The history of mermaids is told. When Atlantis was falling into the ocean, Merrow “saved the Atlanteans by calling them into the water and beseeching Neria to help them. As the dying island sank beneath the waves, the goddess transformed its terrified people and gave them sea magic. They fought her at first, struggling to keep their heads above water, to breathe air, screaming as their legs knit together and their flesh sprouted fins. As the sea pulled them under, they tried to breath water. It was agony. Some could do it. Others could not, and the waves carried their bodies away.”
  • After Serafina is questioned, the villain tells her, “Gods help you if you’ve lied to me.”
  • When Serafina and her friends are freed from prison, Serafina says, “Oh, thank gods!”
  • Serafina was told a story about the sea goddess, Neria, who “fell in love with Cassio, god of the skies. She made a plan to steal away from her palace and meet him on the horizon. Trykel found out and was jealous. He went to Fragor, the storm god, and asked him to fill the sky with clouds so he could hide in them, pretend to be Cassio, and steal a kiss. . .” The story is not completed.

Atlantia

The underwater world of Atlantia has been Rio’s home forever, but she dreams of living in the Above. When Rio has the chance to choose where to live, she wanted to choose the Above. But when her mother dies everything changes. Rio knows she must stay in the Below with her sister Bay. But when the day to choose comes, Bay makes the unexpected decision to go Above. Rio is stranded in the Below with no family. Now Rio only has questions. Was her mother murdered? If so, who wanted her dead? Why did Bay choose to go to the Above?

While Rio searches for her answers, she must hide her own secret. She has always hidden her powerful siren voice. When Rio’s estranged aunt Marie suddenly takes an interest in her, Rio wonders if Marie has discovered her secret. Can Marie be trusted to help Rio go Above, or will Marie lead her into danger? Rio hopes that Marie can answer her questions, but soon she learns that Atlantia’s history is more complex than the people have been told. Rio must listen to the voices of the past. And in the process, she hopes to save herself and her city.

The world of Atlantia is described in beautiful detail; however, the descriptions of a complex religion and history of the city make the beginning of the story slow. Although Rio is an interesting character, many may have a difficult time relating to her. When her sister Bay leaves to go to the Above, Rio is devastated and only thinks about how to join her sister in the Above. Because Rio had always planned to leave her sister, her motivation for going Above doesn’t ring true.

Atlantia is full of mystery, intrigue, and a dash of romance. Told from Rio’s point of view, readers get a look into what the world could look like if people destroy the land above the sea. Through Rio’s experiences, the reader will learn several positive messages including the importance of speaking up for yourself and others. Rio learns that many of the problems between the Above and the Below come from misunderstandings and fear. “People fear those who are different when really we are so much the same.” Rio realizes that “in order to save our city, we have to love each other more than ourselves.”

The ending of the story leaves a lot of unanswered questions, but it also has several surprises. Readers who want to read about mermaids should leave Atlantia on the shelf. Even though the story has sirens, the sirens are humans with a voice that can control people. If you enjoyed Ally Condie’s Matched series, and want to read more from the same author, just be aware that Atlantia is lacking the same action and suspense that makes the Matched series so enjoyable. Readers will either love or hate Atlantia. Some will find the slow pace and the lack of character development frustrating. However, others won’t be able to put the book down because of the mystery and the interesting premise.

Sexual Content

  • Someone saw Rio’s sister kissing a boy. The person said, “I don’t want to speak for them. But yes, it did seem like there was something between them. Something real.”
  • True kissed Rio. “Right here under the trees, right here on my lips, and then on my neck, his fingers strong on my back, pulling me hard and close to him. . . He is good at this. I am good at this. We are good at this.”
  • Rio and True are on a gondola when “true’s lips brush against mine and I kiss him back. We hold each other tight. Earlier, under the trees, we were hungry and relieved to touch each other. We are still hungry.”
  • Rio and True kiss. “True’s lips skim my cheekbone and then he finds my mouth and I kiss him back, reaching to touch the beautiful planes on his face.”

Violence

  • Marie tells a story about two siren sisters who fought in the temple. Their voices killed some of the worshippers who, “fell with blood streaming from their ears and terror in their eyes.” Because of the sisters, the Counsel put the sirens under their governance. One of the sisters didn’t agree with the new rules and committed suicide by drowning, “herself in the wishing pool.”
  • Rio’s mother was killed by the Counsel. The members, “called her in for a meeting. When she arrived, they gave her something to drink, as was the custom, and they had each put some of the poison in her cup. They all did it.”
  • When a transport takes a group of sirens to the Above, they are killed. “Another siren starts to run. Before she’s taken more than a few steps, the people in the boats shoot her down too. . . She doesn’t even breathe, only bleeds.” The scene takes place over several days.
  • One of the leaders of the Above is killed. The murder is not described but Rio sees the body and the “wild hair and his poor, dead face. I put my hand on his chest, but I feel no rise and fall, no heartbeat.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • The gods gave Atlantia a miracle by sending sirens, people who can use their voice to control others. “There have never been two sirens from the same family line. We’ve always believed that the siren voice was a gift from the gods, not simple genetics. In order to be a minister, a person must show that they “cannot be swayed by sirens. They are chosen, in part, for their ability to resist.”
  • Marie, a siren, has the ability to communicate through a shell. She gives Rio a shell and tells her, “all you have to do is ask a question into that shell and then listen for the answer to come back to you.” Marie can also record voices into the shell, but the voice can only be used once.
  • Marie can, “hear voices from people who are gone. Who died hundreds of years ago. I hear voices in the walls of Atlantia, especially siren voices. They’ve been saved up, embedded in the walls.”
  • One of the characters can tell if a siren is telling a lie. “If I listen closely, I can hear something in their voices when they’re not telling the truth. It sounds like the wrong note in a song.”

Spiritual Content

  • Atlantia’s gods are the same gods as the ones above, but they take different shapes. When the people came to Atlantia, the leaders, “assigned land-animal faces and bodies to the gods for those of us who worship Below, and sea forms for those Above.”
  • The Atlantia religion was, “agreed upon by the sirens and the people together. They studied old histories. They learned about the gods. And then they shaped it all to fit the way their lives were. The Counsel took our religion to the Above, and the Above began to believe as well.”
  • The people of Atlantia are taught that those who live below have a “short life, illness, weakness, and misery. . . It is fair. It is as the gods decreed at the time of the Divide. Some have to stay Above so that humanity might survive Below. . . Thanks to the gods for the sea where we live, for the air we breathe, for our lives in the Below.”
  • Rio’s mother told her that, “some people say that the sirens are miracles, not people. . . Can you imagine believing such a thing? People can be miracles.”
  • Rio’s mother told her, “The gods know everything. . . They know how difficult this is. And they are pleased with you.”
  • Rio’s friend said, “I believe in them (the gods) so much that I don’t think they need statues everywhere to be powerful.”
  • When a portion of Atlantia has to be sealed off, many people die. Rio prayed, “and it’s not to Efram or any of the tiger gods, or any of the gods at all. It’s their faces I picture; it’s hers. My mother’s.” Later, Rio again prays to her mother and the gods.
  • Some people worship Rio’s mother and light candles for her.
  • Rio learns that “the temple, the gods, all of it, was a façade, a conceit. It was a way to make things more beautiful. . . No one thought of the gods as gods. They thought they were gargoyles. Decorations.” But later, the “people came to believe.” Later Rio wonders what it would be like to fashion your own gods.

Bad Mermaids Make Waves

Beattie, Mimi, and Zelda planned to spend the summer on land with temporary legs, but their trip is cut short when they receive a message ordering them to return home. The queen of the Hidden Lagoon, Arabella Cod, has been fishnapped. It’s up to the three friends to figure out what has happened to Arabella. When they return to the Hidden Lagoon, they discover that some seriously bad mermaids have taken over. With the help of a talking seahorse, the three go on a dangerous journey to discover who has fishnapped Arabella. Will the three be able to avoid the bad mermaids and chasing piranhas? Can they discover who the true villain is?

Readers looking for a fast-paced and silly mermaid mystery will be drawn to Bad Mermaids Make Waves because of the beautiful cover and the fun black-and-white illustrations throughout the story. The illustrations bring the magical mermaid world to life and help readers visualize the many crazily outfitted characters.

As Beattie, Mimi, and Zelda swim through the mermaid kingdom looking for clues, they interview those who may have had a hand in Arabella Cod’s disappearance. The mystery solving is more silly than serious and the three spend much of their time being chased. Bad Mermaids Make Waves will satisfy readers who like riddles, puns, and seriously silly fun.

The three main characters and a talking sea-horse, Steve, interact in hilarious ways. Another added bonus is the news-like articles from Clamzine and The Scribbled Squid that are dispersed throughout the story. The Scribbled Squid writes, “gossip and lies and things you should definitely buy,” while Clamzine gives snapshots of important characters in a fun way.

Bad Mermaids Makes Waves weaves mermaids, fashion, and mystery into a silly story that will engage reluctant middle school readers.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Arabella Cod is fishnapped by a human.
  • Piranhas chase the three mermaids. Mimi uses fin-fu, which is “a little like human kung fu, only with fins” to battle the piranhas. Mimi “was doing a weird single-finder chopping move and pinging them away.” The piranhas finally swim away.
  • The mermaids chase someone who stole a car. Beattie jumps on a shark and chases the car. “The shark lunged and snapped down. The clam car shot forward . . . the shark lunged and crunched! She opened her eyes just in time to see the robber mermaid shoot out of the car and down the alleyway.”
  • The mermaids sneak into someone’s house to investigate. When they are caught, Beattie gets stuck in the door that was shaped like fish lips. In order to get Beattie unstuck, “Mimi casually turned and fin-fun chopped the fish lips. The entire sandcastle crumbled into a pile in one dusty explosion of sand.” The mermaids then escape.
  • Someone fishnaps Goda Gar. “There on the bow was Goda Gar, being tied up with seaweed streams and carted off by the chomping piranhas.”
  • The three mermaids are captured. When a seahorse tries to help them, a shark “bit down hard on Steve. . . Beattie cried as the wriggling little sea horse went limp and floated down toward the mermaids in a trance below.” The seahorse’s “shell top is ruined,” but he’s okay.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Someone used a “powerful magic, old magic, dark magic” to control the mermaids. Somehow the mermaids’ nails are stamped with piranhas, which allows the piranhas to track them.
  • Someone found the Ruster Shells, which are “two magic shells with crocodiles carved on them.” When mermaids see the shells, they fall into a trance and do everything they are told. Whoever wears the shells can control others.

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

 

Lilly and Fin: A Mermaid’s Tale

Two merpups, Lilly and Fin, love to sneak out of the mermaid city to explore caves. Adults have warned about the dangers of Two-Legs and the Kraken, but surely, they are just stories. Then one day, Lilly and Fin decide to go to their favorite cave. What they don’t know is that there is a couple of Two-Legs that are hiding in the shadows. Will Lilly and Fin fall into the humans’ trap?

Beautiful full-colored illustrations are sprinkled throughout Lilly and Fin: A Mermaid’s Tale. The illustrations of the characters, ocean creatures, and the submarine help bring the story to life. Readers will smile at the comical illustrations of the humans. Another positive aspect is that the larger illustrations have hidden pictures that give readers another fun way to interact with the story.

The easy-to-follow plot of Lilly and Fin: A Mermaid’s Tale cleverly weaves in the adults’ stories of the dangers of the Kraken and the Two-Legs. In the end, the merpups discover that the adults’ stories were not merely made up to make them behave. One negative aspect of the story is that Lilly and Fin lie to their parents on a regular basis. In order to sneak out of the city, Lilly tells her parents she is going to Fin’s, and Fin tells his parents he is going to Lilly’s. Lilly’s love for adventure shines throughout the story, but she isn’t the best friend. She completely ignores Fin when he suggests they do not go to the cave because his scales itch, which means there will be trouble. However, she does convince the Kraken to help free Fin.

The beginning of the story starts out slow, but once Lilly and Fin get out of the mermaid city, they meet interesting characters. The reader knows that Mr. and Mrs. Snorkel are on the hunt for mermaids, which adds suspense to the story. Although the book is written for younger readers, many of the pages only have text, with long paragraphs, which may intimidate some readers. Lilly and Fin: A Mermaid’s Tale would be a humorous story for confident readers of chapter books. The story would also be fun to read aloud for those who are not yet ready for chapter books.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • When Lilly and Fin tried to swim past Neptune, “the fat king grabbed them with his fingers and held them in front of his red eyes.” When the two talk disrespectfully to Neptune, “the fat man howled, shaking his fist, and the merpups with them.”
  • Mr. and Mrs. Snorkel capture Fin. When the submarine is close, Fin’s “wide eyes were just staring at the terrible pinchers, and before Lilly knew what was happening, one of them had sucked up her friend. It closed with a loud clang. And Fin was gone.”
  • In order to free Fin, the Kraken grabs the submarine, and it “began to shake as though it was in the grips of a mighty storm. Mr. Snorkel and Mr. Harkenear were rolling around the floor like marbles.” The group escapes in a pod.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • “Darn” is used twice.
  • The Kraken calls Lilly a “dimwit.”
  • Lilly refers to Neptune as “the fatso.”

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Third Grade Mermaid

Cora dreams of being like the Singing Sirens, the beautiful mermaids that are on the best swim team. But when she fails spelling, she is taken off of the team unless she can earn an A on the next spelling test. To make everything worse, if Cora can’t earn an A, her spot on the swim team will go to Vivian—a beautiful mermaid with shimmery skin. Cora wants to be on the team, but she is easily distracted. Can she learn to study her spelling words and keep her spot on the swim team?

Told in diary form with illustrations on every page, Third Grade Mermaid allows Cora’s struggles with spelling to come to life. The plot focuses on Cora’s struggle with spelling as well as Cora’s attempt to hide her new pet, a gigantic shrimp, from her parents. The plot jumps from topic to topic, which may be difficult for new readers.  As Cora writes in her diary, she crosses out misspelled words and puts the correct spelling in bold print.

Cora’s personality comes to life through the illustrations and her storytelling. However, Cora has several qualities that are not worth emulating. Cora tends to complain a lot, and she is overly focused on other mermaids’ beauty. She believes that “If you’re pretty enough, you just get handed EVERYTHING, including a whole school of fish that follow every flip and flop of your fancy fins.” When Cora hides her pet, her brother has an allergic reaction to shellfish. Cora lies about having a giant shrimp in the house. Later, she gets tired of having a giant shrimp follow her around and tries to ditch him.

Even when Cora’s mother spends “half the morning” arguing with the teacher so Cora can get back on the swim team, Cora is not thankful. Instead, Cora is upset that she had to stay in at recess and talk to the teacher and coach about how to get back on the team. Throughout the entire story, Cora does not study because she either gets distracted or falls asleep. Despite this, at the end of the story she does earn an A on her test, because “I used them to tell my own story. Better than that, I LIVED them.”

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • When Cora tells a shark that his jokes are not great, the shark gets angry and tries to eat her. Just when she is about to become “mermaid sushi” a giant shrimp saves her.
  • A group of beautiful sirens sing a song and attempt to crash the men’s ship. “But right as the boat was about to smash into the rocks,” the sailors see a giant shrimp and shoot a spear at him. “A metal spear whizzed past my ear! Then one nearly hit Vivian!” Everyone is able to swim away from the threat.
  • Vivian has a birthday party and puts her cake on top of an actual underwater volcano. The volcano explodes and “everyone started pushing and shoving to get out of there!” Cora’s necklace gets stuck on “the wet bar.” She is able to escape safely.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • There is a “wet bar” at a mermaid’s birthday party.

Language

  • Cora complains that her art teacher only gives the students “one piece of stinkin’ paper per class.”

Supernatural

  • Cora’s mother gives her a diary. “It’s enchanted. And because you willingly put pen to paper, from now on you’ll be compelled to write in it.” Later Cora discovers that her mother was just teasing and she wrote in the diary because she enjoyed it.

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

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