A Carnegie-nominated timeless story from the award-winning author Berlie Doherty, republished by popular demand with new illustrations.
Berlie Doherty began writing for children in 1983, after teaching and working in radio. She has written more than 35 books for children, as well as for the theatre, radio and television. Berlie has won the Carnegie Medal twice- in 1987 for GRANNY WAS A BUFFER GIRL and in 1992 for DEAR NOBODY. She has also won the Writer's Guild Children's Fiction Award for DAUGHTER OF THE SEA. Her work is published all over the world, and many of her books have been televised.
Gr 5-8‘Readers who grew up with repeated viewings of Disney's The Little Mermaid have a richer, darker whale of a tale in store for them. Gioga, named after a mythic sea princess, is rescued by a kindly fisherman and taken home to his barren wife. After convincing the neighbors that she miraculously gave birth to the infant, a joyous celebration is given to welcome the babe. The uninvited guest, Eilean o da Freya, appears prophesying future heartbreak for the family. Neither husband nor wife confides in one another their fears or discoveries (the husband neglects to mention the selkie skin left behind; the wife refuses to tell her husband about the mysterious Hill Marliner's repeated visits to check on the child he claims is his). Readers will be able to smell the salt water and hear the singing, lyrical text: "Waves snapped around him like a pack of wild dogs...waves that would toss his boat like a shell." The emotions ring true in each of the vividly drawn characters. Doherty uses tales from Iceland, Ireland, and Scotland, although exact citations are not given. There are a few unanswered questions: Why did Gioga need a nurse? Did her "real" mother die, or was this an unexplained custom? What exactly was Eilean o da Freya's past? Nevertheless, this is a lovely tale certain to enchant readers of Theodore Taylor's salty sagas and Mollie Hunter's selkie stories. Definitely for graduates of Susan Cooper's The Selkie Girl (McElderry, 1986).‘Marilyn Payne Phillips, University City Public Library, MO
"Evokes overwhelming joy and sadness" * Daily Telegraph *
"Tension, emotional honesty and more than a touch of cold northern poetry as well" -- Philip Pullman * Guardian *
A vast, Nordic setting and a hauntingly melodic tone evoking the rhythm of its harbors anchor this selkie tale. Weaving together ancient stories from Iceland, Scotland and Ireland, Doherty (The Snake-Stone) tells of Gioga, the daughter taken in by Jannet and Monroe, who develops a strange affection and longing for the seals in the waters that surround her island home. Doherty captures readers from the start as she foreshadows, "Men haunt the sea, and the sea gives up to them a glittering harvest. And it is said that the people of the sea haunt the land." Monroe finds the baby in a moon flash beneath the sea and "as he lifted her out of the water he had felt something slip away, like a rag of soft skin. He knew what it was, and he let it go." He keeps this secret and brings Gioga home to his childless wife, to raise as theirs‘until the day she is called to return to her own. A strong cast of supporting characters like Eilean, the strange woman who knows the secret of the seals, and Hill Marliner, the mysterious seal-man who comes to claim what belongs to him, heighten the plot as it moves toward its inevitable yet poignant conclusion. While legends of undersea people are as old as man's uneasy relationship with the enigmatic oceans, what readers will remember from this one is the language of Doherty's masterful storytelling. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 11-up. (Oct.)