The Emerald Maze (Mermaids Rock, Book 5) by Linda Chapman, illustrated by Mirelle Ortega. Tiger Tales, 2022. 9781664340282
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3
What did you like about the book? The Save the Sea Creatures Club consists of five mer-friends who spend time together exploring the regions of the world’s oceans to help animals and the environment. They live in a community of merfolk who travel using a network of whirlpools. When their whirlpool seems to be malfunctioning, the kids are strictly prohibited from investigating, but when Marina’s pet seahorse Sammy gets sucked into the whirlpool, Marina dives in after him, soon followed by her friends. They find themselves in an underground river in Mexico called a cenote, and as they explore the river and its connected caves, they are startled by bats and observe other unfamiliar land animals such as a jaguar and some tropical birds. They also discover that the whirlpool is being affected by magic from some human artifacts, and are able to set that to rights and are soon safely back at Mermaid Rock.
The Emerald Maze is consistent with the formula for previous books in the series, but a few plot points stand out; this seems to be the closest the kids have come to the human world so far and the interactions with land animals add some real excitement. Also, at the end of the previous book, the crew mended ways with their classmate Glenda, who had been bullying them, and in this installment she is part of their adventure and even ends up with her own special animal friend. The series can feel just as much a middle school friendship story as an underwater fantasy book, and that will add a lot of appeal for readers. Greyscale illustrations enhance the story, and a little back matter with further information about cenotes and bats is included.
Anything you did not like about the book? No
To whom would you recommend this book? Middle elementary fantasy fans (grades 2 and up), especially if they have read the previous books in this series or others by Chapman such as Star Friends, will dive right in. Lighter than Emily Windsnap, it will certainly appeal to those readers who can’t get enough of mermaids, and 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? Series 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: May 5, 2022