The Mermaid’s Dolphin

Sourcebooks. (Sea Keepers: Bk. 1). Apr. 2021. 176p. pap. $6.99. ISBN 9781728236889.
Gr 1-3–In this series, three girls magically become sea keepers, helping their undersea friends clean up the ocean. Emily, who is Black and adopted, has recently moved with her parents to open the Mermaid Café in a seaside town. She is nervous about being the new girl at school until she meets Grace and Layla. Together with Marina the mermaid, they embark on an adventure to locate the Golden Pearls that protect the ocean. The sea keepers communicate with dolphins, squids, and an ancient mystic clam who aids them in outsmarting the wicked sorceress Effluvia and her siren sisters. This tale will appeal to early chapter book readers who enjoy imaginary adventures. With simple text and an uncomplicated story line, this title offers perfect fluency practice for students exiting the leveled readers stage. The text is embellished with spare line drawings. It reads smoothly but relies somewhat on repeated exclamations like “amazing!” and predictable undersea action sequences. The book’s highlights come in its message of conservation and Emily’s sensitive explanations of what it feels like to be adopted and the new girl in town.
VERDICT The title’s dedication to ocean protection, with tips and examples for readers to become better stewards of marine life, redeems an otherwise formulaic story. Purchase for students who devour Daisy Meadows’s “Rainbow Fairies” and other prolific series titles.

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