Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Tail of Emily Windsnap

My daughter's 7th birthday party had a mermaid theme, so not surprisingly she received several books about mermaids, fairies, and unicorns. "The Tail of Emily Windsnap" by Liz Kessler was one of the books that we enjoyed reading. I have to confess that after strictly telling my daughter, "Only one chapter per night!" I would sneak a peek at the first page or two of the next chapter when she wasn't looking. Hey, if she wants to cheat too, she's just going to have to learn to read!
Emily Windsnap is a 7th grader with a secret. When she is immersed in water, her legs turn into a tail and she turns into a mermaid. She just discovered this, because her mother has a phobia about water and just gave in to years of requests for swimming lessons. And yet, despite her mother's water phobia, they live on a boat. In a marina. Obviously, there is more going on than Emily can understand, at least at the beginning of the book.
Despite my daughter's love of mermaids, I worried for a few chapters that this book was too mature for her. What does a first grader know about the social cliques of 7th graders? How can she understand the angst of a child who has never met her father? But she liked the book and never seemed bored by the parts that I thought might go over her head. It amazes me sometimes, the gap between the level of books she can read, and the level of books she can understand. No wonder she hates trying to read. If her choice is spending 20 minutes stumbling through "Hop on Pop" or 20 minutes listening to her mom reading "Emily Windsnap", should I be surprised that she would rather just listen?
Anyway, Emily eventually discovers all kinds of interesting things about herself and her parents. She makes a friend and has several opportunities to be brave, creative and persistent. Despite seeming aimed at slightly older readers, there was nothing in this book that I found inappropriate for a 7-year-old. Emily sneaks out at night and tries to write a fake note to her school, but the story has enough fantasy that I doubt my daughter will be emulating Emily anytime soon. All in all, a fun read for all 16 nights. Recommended for all lovers of mermaids.

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