A middle-grade reader with a lovely cover and a story involving a mermaid? I was hooked when I saw the ad in Shelf Awareness and was so excited to receive my ARC (there ya go, FTC). If you don’t particularly enjoy middle grade books (8-12 yrs) or lean toward YA (12+), you might not like Keeper very much. But the rest of you will love it.
From Publishers Weekly:
To ten-year-old Keeper, this moon is her chance to fix all that has gone wrong…and so much has gone wrong. But she knows who can make things right again: Meggie Marie, her mermaid mother who swam away when Keeper was just three. A blue moon calls the mermaids to gather at the sandbar, and that’s exactly where she is headed — in a small boat, in the middle of the night, with only her dog, BD (Best Dog), and a seagull named Captain.
When the riptide pulls at the boat, tugging her away from the shore and deep into the rough waters of the Gulf of Mexico, panic sets in, and the fairy tales that lured her out there go tumbling into the waves. Maybe the blue moon isn’t magic and maybe the sandbar won’t sparkle with mermaids and maybe — Oh, no…”Maybe” is just too difficult to bear. Kathi Appelt follows up to her New York Times bestseller, The Underneath, with a tale that will pull right at your very core — stronger than moon currents — capturing the crash and echo of the waves and the dark magic of the ocean.
Things I love about this book:
Aesthetics: This book is a great squarish size and thickness that fits right in my hand. I love the font and the layout. I’m sensitive to certain paper types (some book covers and pages just make my skin crawl), and the weight and texture of these pages is divine.
Voice: The voice of the characters in this book, particularly that of Keeper and of BD (Best Dog), are strong, consistent, and gripping.
Blend of realism and magic: At its core, this is a book about a girl learning about love and her true family. There are elements of magic that she believes and which we, as readers, suspect might not be true, but there is also a bit of magic that is part of the the reality of the world, not just Keeper’s world.
Setting: I read this while at the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival in Mississippi, so the southern setting was especially fun for me. This small book has a big sense of place.
A surprise: A older reader will know some mysteries long before Keeper figures them out, but Keeper does contain one thing that surprised me and that I loved. I can’t say much about it without giving it away, but it’s something that’s not meant to be a surprise, as in, it’s not something that Appelt builds up to and asks us to discover. It’s just something that is an everyday part of the story that, by the way the story is crafted, will surprise some readers in a wonderful way — and cause us to think about why we are surprised. This all very vague, but trust me, it’s good.
Keeper goes on sale today. It’s author Kathi Appelt’s second book; her first, The Underneath (which I haven’t read but now mean to), was Newbery Honor Book and a finalist for the National Book Award. Have you read Keeper yet? I can’t wait to hear what you thought of it!