Liz Kessler, Author, Sarah Gibb, Illustrator . Candlewick $15.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-7636-2483-5

Pre-teen girls will likely bite at this novel's tempting bait, offered in the opening lines: "Can you keep a secret? Everybody has secrets, of course, but mine's different." Emily Windsnap, who narrates, is half-mermaid, as she discovers, inconveniently, in her seventh-grade swim class. Despite never having had a lesson, she takes to the water like, well, a fish. Before Emily's first kick turn she feels her legs melding into a tail. She hops out of the water before she can be branded a freak, but she's hooked. At night, she sneaks from the boat where she lives with her mother to explore the undersea world, and unravel the mystery of her genetics—which involves her long-missing, never-discussed father. Newcomer Kessler anchors her fantasy in the nitty-gritty of adolescence: Emily bests a bully who comes close to guessing her secret, and she finds a best friend in Shona, a mermaid she meets during her nightly swims. Coincidences drive the plot—Shona has recently studied illegal mermaid-human marriages in school; a creepy lightkeeper drops a key that unlocks a treasure chest containing a file spelling out the entire backstory. The jewel-toned jacket art and ink-wash illustrations sprinkled throughout add girlish charm to an imaginative story. Ages 8-12. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/31/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Genre: Children's
Compact Disc - 4 pages - 978-0-7393-7136-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4000-8599-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4000-8600-9
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7393-3056-2
Prebound-Glued - 208 pages - 978-0-7569-6568-6
Paperback - 208 pages
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-7636-2811-6
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-4440-1509-6
Hardcover - 978-0-7528-7286-5
Paperback - 200 pages - 978-1-84255-166-0
Hardcover - 208 pages - 978-1-61383-281-3
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-4440-0135-8
Open Ebook - 978-0-7636-5240-1
Prebound-Sewn - 224 pages - 978-0-606-25544-8
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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