Annie Lumsden, the Girl from the Sea by David Almond, illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna

Annie Lumsden, the Girl from the Sea by David Almond, illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna. Candlewick Press, 2021. 9781536216745

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

Format:  Hardcover

Genre: Fantasy

What did you like about the book?   This lyrical tale tells the story of a 13-year old girl who is searching for a sense of belonging.  Annie lives by the sea with her mother and describes herself in poetic imagery from the sea. “I have hair that drifts like seaweed when I swim.  I have eyes that shine like rock pools. My ears are like scallop shells.”  Annie has trouble learning in school and suffers from seizures that make her feel as if she is underwater.  Her mother loves to tell tales and one day the girl asks her to tell a tale that explains Annie: “Tell me something with a better truth in it, something that works out the puzzle of me…Turn me into a tale.” Her mother tells of meeting a type of merman or selkie and Annie begins to feel as if she finally has the truth of herself.  When a travelling photographer takes a picture of mother and daughter, Annie sees something in the photograph that seems to show the tale of her father is true.  After this, Annie finally has a breakthrough: “Words stopped being barnacles. Numbers were no longer limpets. I started to feel as free on land as I did in the sea.”  Could it be that the tale is true or could it be just growing up?  As her doctor remarks, “Sometimes the best way to understand how to be human is to understand our strangeness.”  This beautiful and enchanting tale is complemented with lovely watercolor and colored pencil illustrations.  A wonderful original fairytale.

Anything you didn’t like about it?   No

To whom would you recommend this book?   This is a perfect choice for readers who love fairy and folktales, especially those about selkies and mer-people. 

Who should buy this book?  Public libraries and middle school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this at the top of our “to read” piles?   Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review:  September 24, 2021  

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