Grades 5-9 (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2010)
I knew I would love Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings. I had read the great reviews. I enjoy the author’s quirky, somewhat “out-there” sense of humour. And I always love a book that draws me into an alternate world and allows me to stay there, happy for the duration, in my suspended disbelief.
And so I bought the book. And so I kept the book. And so I waited for one of those delicious afternoons where I could climb into a tub with my box of chocolates and a cup of tea. And I’m so glad I did.
Jade completely pulled me into the drama of her first big crush, her search for her mother and, oh yes, her transformation into a mermaid. Now this is no Disney princess sort of mermaid story. For one thing, no Disney mermaid ever had to contend with getting her first period on the day of her big transformation. For another thing, the mermaids Jade meets in this book don’t live in azure coastal waters. Rather they live as prisoners in the lake where her mother ‘drowned’ the year before. But as Jade comes to realize that her mermish heritage is genetic, she finds herself plagued by questions about her mother’s actual fate. Then add to all that, the fact that Luke, the cutest boy in school, seems to have noticed the webbing between two of Jade’s toes and Jade certainly has more than your typical teenage woes to contend with.
Thanks to Boudreau’s unpredictable plot development and compelling narration, I was submerged in Jade’s world for the entire afternoon. I felt her agony as her legs turned to tail and back again; I learned to tune my hearing to the language of mermaid rings; I learned to breathe water. And it’s a good thing I did because, with the release of Real Mermaids Don’t Hold Their Breath coming in May 2012, I look forward to spending another blissful afternoon in my tub!