When I have the choice between reading another book or reviewing the one I have just read, I usually choose to read another one! As much as I adore shouting about books on my blog, Reading is, after all, my first love! So I have decided to do some mini-review posts to tell you about some other books which I have read and think you might enjoy.
This time they are all themed around the sea which is apt as near the sea is my very favourite place to be!
Research into the effect of the sea (and other water features) on human psychology seems to show some interesting results – people are immediately calmed by being in a green space (the much talked about Japanese concept of ‘forest-bathing’ shinrinyoku as a way of encouraging mental health), but the effect seems to be even stronger when water is involved too.
Personally, I know that being near the sea always makes me feel calm and centred, regardless of what is going on in my life. If this is because of the psychological effect of ‘blue space’ on my brain, or the fact that I grew up next to the sea and have a deep love for it in every season, I don’t know. However, the fact is that being near the sea makes me happy, I miss it when I’m not near it and books set near or on the sea have an immediate appeal for me!
I have chosen to focus on three books for children here, but I could go on and on with a list of other books about the sea that I have enjoyed…
The Girl With Shark’s Teeth by Cerrie Burnell
Minnow is different from the other girls in her town and there’s plenty to set her apart: the blossom of pale scars which lie beneath Minnow’s delicate ears, the fact that she has an affinity with the water which leaves people speechless, and that once – she is sure – in deep, deep water, her body began to glow like a sunken star. When her mum gets into trouble and is taken from their boat in the dead of night, Minnow is alone with one instruction: sail to Reykjavik to find your grandmother, she will keep you safe. Minnow has never sailed on her own before, but the call of the deep is a call she’s been waiting to answer her whole young life. Perhaps a girl who is lost on land can be found in the Wild Deep. The stunning middle grade debut from Cerrie Burnell.
The story follows Minnow as her life on board a real-life pirate ship with her mother Mercy (complete with hook!) and husky Miyuki is interrupted by the arrival of three strange men searching for a map to The Wild Deep. The story is fast-paced and interesting, chock-a-block with magical creatures and adventure.
I liked how Minnow is biracial and is also part of both worlds, the sea and the earth. I loved her relationship with Miyuki, the family ties with her mother and grandmother and the friends she makes along the way. The story starts off strongly, although there are rather too many serendipitous events for me to ever be fully convinced that Minnow was in any danger of not completing her task. She is the most special of special children, which is fine, but as an adult reader I did find it a bit unbelievable that everything would fall into place quite so neatly.
I would recommend this for representation of a biracial character and for any children who love adventure stories and the sea.
Corey’s Rock by Sita Brahmachari and Jane Ray
‘Time to say goodbye,’ Mum says.
She hands me petals, and more to Dad
We raise our hands to scatter them across the sea.
The rose that’s supposed to mean we say goodbye to Corey.
I picked this up from my local library, entirely based on the author and the illustrator – what a team!
This is a deceptively-simple, heartbreaking, yet hopeful story about a family struggling with the loss of their youngest member, 5-year-old Corey and the aftermath of his death. I loved how Celtic and Yoruban mythology were interwoven (stories of the selkie), the biracial family and the luminous illustrations which both supported and added to the text.
Simple, beautiful and important! I now own my own copy and have one in my classroom too…
Sea by Sarah Driver
In the sky, the fire spirits dance and ripple. Grandma says they showed our Tribe that I’d be a captain, before I was even born.
Ever since Ma died, Mouse has looked after her little brother, Sparrow, dreaming of her destiny as captain of the Huntress. But now Da’s missing, Sparrow is in danger, and a deathly cold is creeping across Trianukka . . .
Sea-churning, beast-chattering, dream-dancing, whale-riding, terrodyl-flying, world-saving adventure. The first book in a stunning new fantasy adventure trilogy, perfect for readers aged 9+ and fans of Philip Pullman, Piers Torday, Abi Elphinstone, Katherine Rundell and Frances Hardinge.
A rip-roaring middle grade adventure set in a magical world where drowned sailors become seawraiths, whale song can be seen and captured and our main character, Mouse, roams the seas on The Huntress, a ship captained by her indomitable grandmother.
The world-building is detailed and intricate, although I did, at times, find this hard to follow when the speed of the action picked up. An interesting start to the series, and I did continue to read the rest of the series too. I wanted to completely love it, but was a bit uncomfortable with Mouse’s visions being linked to having seizures…
Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Volk
From the author of the critically acclaimed Wolf Hollow comes a moving story of identity and belonging.
Twelve-year-old Crow has lived her entire life on a tiny, isolated piece of the starkly beautiful Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts. Abandoned and set adrift on a small boat when she was just hours old, Crow’s only companions are Osh, the man who rescued and raised her, and Miss Maggie, their fierce and affectionate neighbor across the sandbar.
Crow has always been curious about the world around her, but it isn’t until the night a mysterious fire appears across the water that the unspoken question of her own history forms in her heart. Soon, an unstoppable chain of events is triggered, leading Crow down a path of discovery and danger.
Vivid and heart wrenching, Lauren Wolk’s Beyond the Bright Sea is a gorgeously crafted and tensely paced tale that explores questions of identity, belonging, and the true meaning of family.
A slow-paced look at a young girl’s search for her past. Crow has grown up on the island where she washed up in a skiff as a newborn baby, raised by her adoptive father Osh and a neighbour, Miss Maggie. Yet, at 12 years old and still feeling like an outcast because of rumours about her past, she decides that she wants to find her ‘real’ parents.
I loved the island setting ad the message of family being the people who you love, regardless of blodd relation. I liked the setting among islands full of stories of pirate treasure and the authentic historical details which really brought the setting to life. Crow was a convincing and sympathetic main character and I loved the relationship between her, Osh and Miss Maggie. Weirdly, I also loved that the cat, Mouse, appears throughout the book – it frustrates me when a pet is introduced, then never mentioned again!
Parts of the ‘mystery’ seemed a little stretched and the villain, while menacing, didn’t convince me with his motivation to keep on coming after Crow, despite the police getting involved.
Lauren Wolk’s novels always make me think and evoke a sense of time and place perfectly. For those who are happy with a thoughtful, slow-paced read full of historical facts and with lyrical language, you will enjoy this.
Try this if you enjoyed Storm Wake or The Island at the End of Everything.
Have you read any of these books?
Would you like to read any of them after reading this post?
Could you recommend any other books featuring the sea?
What are you reading at the moment?
See more mini-reviews, this time themed around Girls in Politics.
Thanks for reading!