cover image Water Wishes

Water Wishes

Mallory Loehr. Random House Children's Books, $3.99 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-679-89216-8

With water as its theme, the inaugural volume of The Magic Elements Quartet drowns in extraneous detail, sodden dialogue and a plot that is anything but watertight. While vacationing at the beach, 10-year-old Polly and seven-year-old Sam spot a glass bottle bobbing in the water; a note inside promises to grant three wishes. After several failed attempts, Polly makes a wishto become a mermaidthat comes true. Though the sequence of events gets murky, next the siblings 13-year-old brother, Joe, apparently gets hold of the bottle and is granted his wish to become Neptune. Meanwhile, Polly and Sam discover that his transformation seems to have wiped out everyone elses memory of their older brother. The plot becomes even sillier as Polly and Sam make their final wishto locate Joeand transform, respectively, into a mermaid (again) and an octopus, and find themselves in an underwater city; the rules that applied to Pollys wish (she reverted to her normal body after 24 hours) dont apply to Joes situation. Outlandish without being at all magical, this tale is summed up in a comment that Polly makes when she and Sam, so engrossed in their new serpentine identities, forget all about their mission to find Joe: Were wasting time! she exclaims. Readers of this washed-out tale will likely feel the same way. Ages 8-10. (May)