Monday, February 15, 2010

Daughters of the Sea: Hannah by Kathryn Lasky

Deemed unsuitable for going into service, Hannah is sent west from Boston on an orphan train. Being so far from the sea nearly kills her. Her skin leaves salty deposits. She begins to grow what appear to be scales. Hannah's not sure what's happening to her but about one thing she is certain. She must be near the sea. On her return to Boston, she goes into service for the Hawley family. There she is drawn to three things: vases that depict half human half fish creatures, a harp, and the painter Stannish Whitman Wheeler. As the mystery of who (or what) she is unravels, Hannah must make a decision that will change the rest of her life.

What I thought: Brilliant concept backed by beautiful prose. I was drawn into the story. What's great about the story is the dramatic irony. A savvy reader knows what Hannah is before she does. I kept reading to see how she would react, what choice she would make. The ending was a bit ambiguous, but I understand this to be a trilogy. I (im)patiently await the next installment. I want to know what happens to the painter. I want to know id Hannah's choice is absolute. I want to know about the others. Loved the setting. New England is the quintessential place to set a sea tale (tail? Yes, I see the pun). If you're a mermaid fan, this book will pair well with the Disney Channel movie The Thirteenth Year.

(New York: Scholastic, 2009)

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