The Coral Kingdom – Linda Chapman, illustrated by Mirelle Ortega

The Coral Kingdom (Mermaids Rock, Book 1)  – Linda Chapman, illustrated by Mirelle Ortega. Tiger Tales, 2021. 9781680104899 

Format: paperback

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

 Genre: fantasy

 What did you like about the book? Marina is a mergirl who has traveled the world with her absent-minded scientist father and is so happy to be settling in Mermaids Rock for a while.  She looks forward to going to school and making new friends and being able to explore her new coral reef home.  On her very first day of school she is welcomed by a group of animal-loving classmates (each with their own special aquatic pet) who have started a Save the Sea Creatures Club.  On one of their very first outings they discover that one of the nearby coral caves appears to have been damaged by a very large creature.  They report it to the mer-guards, who determine it was a whale shark, and claim to have chased it away.  Marina knows that whale sharks are not dangerous, so she and the others are determined to solve the mystery themselves, and not only do they uncover the truth, they realize what a great team they make when they work together.

This book does a great job establishing the premise of what is sure to be a popular series by the prolific Linda Chapman.  Readers will learn about all of the major characters and their special strengths (Naya is the smart one, Coralie is the funny one, Glenda is the bully, etc.) and also get an idea of the setting and the social structure of the denizens of Mermaids Rock.  Cute black and white illustrations enhance the story, and back matter provides further information for  some of the merkids’ discoveries.

Anything you did not like about the book?  The back matter should also include a list references and resources.  And some of the dialogue is really corny, especially the made-up adjectives with ocean themes like “krill-iant” and “foam-azing.”

 To whom would you recommend this book? Fantasy readers (grades 2 and up) who are looking to step up from series like Rainbow Magic will find a good fit here; with its ecological focus, it will also be popular with kids who like books about animal adventures.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Fiction

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  no

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: 7/15/2021

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