Poppy set down one mermaid doll close to the stretch of asphalt road that represented the Blackest Sea. They were old—bought from Goodwill—with big shiny heads, different colored tails and frizzy hair. Then the mermaids waited for the boat to get closer, their silly plastic smiles hiding their lethal intentions. They’d crash the ship against the shallows if they could, lure the crew into the sea, and eat the pirates with their jagged teeth.
There’s plenty to like here, namely a nifty adventure plot with elements of mystery and horror, a trio of engaging characters, and those coming-of-age themes that we alluded to in the HOKEY POKEY discussion.
I’m ambivalent about this book. I enjoyed it, but I wanted to like it even more. I loved the idea of it from the reviews I read, but then when I read the book myself it seemed to be lacking something, and I’m not quite sure what. I may have been expecting it to be scarier, but I’m not sure that entirely explains my slightly underwhelmed response. This one is a middle of the pack title for me, but I can be convinced. The book has lots of fans, and I’m hoping they will state their case here.
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About Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Caldecott Medal, the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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