Plot: In the first of a three-book adventure series for middle grade readers, eleven-year-old Lucy is moving away from everything she has ever known. The Caribbean is a long way from London, but she soon finds friends Jack and Solomon, who introduce her to the beach and the ocean’s wondrous creatures, including a beached turtle that has swallowed a plastic bag. As Lucy finds out, plastic poses a serious threat to the ocean environment and mitigating that danger leads her find the courage to learn new skills and brave the ocean deep, which, of course, just might be full of sea monsters.
Prose/Style: The author moves the story along quickly in keeping with Lucy’s sharp mind and somewhat extraordinary ability to adapt to her new situation. Each character has a refreshingly distinctive, consistent voice and point of view. The reading level is suitable for the upper elementary grades, but might be a little challenging for eight-year-olds.
Originality: Gloria Barnett (aka the WeirdFish Lady) uses Lucy’s move to the Caribbean as a vehicle for introducing readers to sea life and the human practices that threaten the ocean, which, as a scientist, are her passion. She has handled the device well and by focusing so emphatically on her cast of interesting characters turns what could have been a boring and didactic story into a compelling read.
Character Development/Execution: Lucy is a particularly self-aware and perceptive pre-teen in some ways more mature than her somewhat impulsive mom, but it is clear this forced maturity takes a toll. Lucy, with the help of her friends more than her mom, learns the skills she needs to feel comfortable in her new home (including learning to swim and scuba dive) and, as she overcomes her fears, even finds a way to contribute to cleaning up the environment.
Date Submitted: August 10, 2021
It is an original concept with subject matter children can relate to. Children will be fascinated by the underwater world of beautiful creatures and the dangers of diving. They'll relate to the friendships and compassion, using the characters as role models. An exceptional story.