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The Girl Who Thought Her Mother Was a Mermaid

Book Synopsis

Even though she’s terrified of the sea, a girl who believes her mum might have been a mermaid runs away to the ocean to solve the mystery of who she really is. Stella is the odd one out. She sleepwalks, is terrified of water, yet obsessed by the ocean. Her mum who died when Stella was eight remains the biggest mystery of all. Who was she and why did she give Stella a necklace called ‘the word of the sea’ before she died? Nobody can give her any answers. Her father is consumed by grief and her grandmother’s memories are fading with dementia.

When Stella’s only friend in the world, Cam, moves house, Stella runs away. She’s determined to find out who her mum was and who she is too. She ends up in the Crystal Cove, a run-down aquarium with a mermaid show. There she meets Pearl who reveals disturbing secrets. It’s only by facing her fear of the ocean that Stella will truly uncover the truth.

This is an exquisitely imagined story about a girl on an adventure above and below the waves.

Our Review Panel says...

Stella Martin can remember how happy everything seemed at home before her mother died but now she feels increasingly alone and isolated. When a new girl called Cam arrives, Stella is happy to enjoy a blossoming friendship.

Stella is pleased to have a friend to confide in as there is a lot on her mind, especially when she begins to suspect a highly unusual secret about her mother. Why is there such a strange family relationship with water? Are Grandma’s odd comments about mermaids just part of her dementia or is there more to them? What does the picture of a mermaid drawn by her mother mean and why had it been hidden away? Stella decides it is time to investigate her suspicions and she sets off on a mission to uncover the truth.

What follows is a thoroughly gripping adventure with dark twists and turns, fascinating characters and just the right amount of suspense to keep readers’ eyes glued to the pages until a resolution has been reached (I read this in one sitting). The difficult themes of bereavement, dementia and abusive relationships are handled with due sensitivity and there is nothing too frightening in this unusual story, with plenty to feel optimistic about at the end.

With a highly original concept, mesmerising storytelling and a beautifully portrayed exploration of character identity and relationships, I highly recommend this for Years 5-6.

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The Girl Who Thought Her Mother Was a Mermaid: Teaching Notes

A resource pack provided by the publisher to accompany the book The Girl Who Thought Her Mother Was a Mermaid.

The Girl Who Thought Her Mother Was a Mermaid

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