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The Mermaid in the Millpond

Book Synopsis

History and myth entwine in this atmospheric tale of freedom and friendship from bestselling author Lucy Strange and acclaimed illustrator Pam Smy.

Bess has left the London workhouse behind for a job at a rural cotton mill. But life at the mill is hard and cruel – a far cry from the fresh start Bess hoped for. The only way to survive is to escape, but the mill is like a prison with no way out.

Meanwhile, rumours are spreading about a vicious creature that lurks in the millpond. Bess is sure it’s all nonsense, until one night she sees something stir in the murky water.

But is it really a monster that lives in the depths of the pond? Or a creature trapped and alone, just like Bess, desperate to escape…

Our Review Panel says...

Bess lived with her Ma, a well-known actress, in London enjoying life and helping in the theatres. This all changes when her Ma falls ill and passes away, meaning she is sent to a London workhouse. She makes the decision to move to a northern rural cotton mill where she is promised a better life, an education and better living conditions. This is not the reality that Bess and the other children face when they arrive. She is put to work as a threader on the large, noisy and dangerous machinery in the over-hot mill.

On her first day she and the others are told of the vicious and blood-thirsty mermaid who lives in the millpond who will attack any child who tries to escape the mill or work – Bess thinks this is nonsense and is a myth. However, when she finds herself in trouble and wanting to leave her new ‘home’ she sees something in the murky waters – reaching for freedom.

Lucy Strange has written a fantastic story that merges myth and Victorian history. The story is easy to read and engages the reader straight away by feeding small snippets of the plot and of Bess’ life before the mill. I really enjoyed the historical information about life in the cotton mills for children – the way it was incorporated into the story made you feel for the children and gave you a sense of what they went through during the Industrial Revolution.. The simple black and white illustrations are effective as they add to the story but still allow your imagination to flow when reading about the mermaid. I would definitely recommend this book to be used in schools when looking at the Victorian period or mythical writing.

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The Mermaid in the Millpond Teacher Resources

A KS2 classroom resource pack provided by the publisher to accompany the book The Mermaid in the Millpond.

The Mermaid in the Millpond

the mermaid in the millpond

Book Details

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