cover image Annie Lumsden, the Girl from the Sea

Annie Lumsden, the Girl from the Sea

David Almond, illus. by Beatrice Alemagna. Candlewick, $16.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1674-5

Annie Lumsden and her sea shanty–singing mother, who “finds tales everywhere,” live in a modest white house “above the jetsam line,” from which parts of the village of Stupor can be glimpsed. The 13-year-old, a white only child with learning difficulties and an innate love of the ocean, describes herself poetically, with language borrowed from the sea (“I have eyes that shine like rock pools. My ears are like scallop shells”) and occasionally suffers from “falls,” seizure-like episodes in which she goes “far away beneath the sea.” One day, Annie asks her mother to tell a new origin story for her, “something that works out the puzzle of me.” The resulting tale involves the woman’s meeting a mysterious man from the sea with fins and webbed feet, nine months before Annie herself is born; later that day, a traveler snaps a picture of Annie that seems to reveal the truth behind her otherworldliness. Almond’s (Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist) sea-swept story, enhanced by Alemagna’s (Things That Go Away) eloquent, softly hued watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations, melds memorable turns of phrase with an appreciation for the unexpected: “Sometimes the best way to understand how to be human is to understand our strangeness.” Ages 7–10. (May)