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*Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep* by Liz Kessler, illustrated by Sarah Gibb- young readers fantasy book review
Also by Liz Kessler:

Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister
Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep
by Liz Kessler, illustrated by Sarah Gibb
Ages 9-12 240 pages Candlewick April 2007 Paperback    

Emily Windsnap isnít your common, everyday, run-of-the-mill teenager (if there even is such a thing); she is a half-human, half-mermaid creation from the whimsical and marvelous mind of author Liz Kessler, and her adventures and misadventures begun in The Tail of Emily Windsnap continue in Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep. After having freed her merman father from one of Neptuneís prisons in the first book, Emily is now trying to reclaim a relationship with a dad whom she hasnít seen since she was a baby. Neptune had wanted to put a stop to what he considered to be a forbidden love, but even imprisoning her father and giving her mother a drug to erase her memory didnít stop them from getting back together, thanks to Emily.

Emily and her family move to Allpoints Island to live, at Neptuneís orders. It seems to be an idyllic, perfect place to live, especially when compared to Emilyís experiences at Brightport Junior High School, where Emily felt like a freak. Her best friend, Shona (who was a mermaid), will be there with her, and sheíll be leaving behind her worst enemy, Mandy Rushton. But there is one little problem. If you happen to be the person who accidentally awakens and frees a monster from the deep - the kraken - from its lair, where it is supposed to be peacefully slumbering, and it then goes on a destructive rampage, that is not the best way to endear yourself to your new neighbors.

Allpoints Island isnít on any map. According to Archieval (aka Archie), a merman friend of the Windsnaps and one of Neptuneís officials, ďItís right in the middle of the Triangle.Ē Thatís the Bermuda Triangle, a place where ships and planes mysteriously disappear, where compasses often malfunction and magnetic disturbances confound navigational systems. The island is a beautiful place, her mother and father are together, and she has her best friend with her; Emily canít help but think that ďNothing this beautiful could be dangerous.Ē

Still, being the new mermaid on the block, Emily feels she has to do something to impress Shona and her other friends, Althea and Marina, to prove she fits in. They tell her about a forbidden lagoon the island. Emily decides to go there and explore one of the caves to show them she isnít afraid. Shona goes with her, and the two see that the floor of the cave is covered with jewels and gold. When they swim to the end of a tunnel and shove a boulder blocking it out of the way, they begin to realize why this area is off-limits: it is where Neptuneís faithful servant, the kraken, has been sleeping, awaiting for the end of the one hundred years when the King of the Sea will awaken it. Only 92 years had gone by so far, so itís understandable that the kraken is a tad cranky.

There are chapters in Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep told from Mandy Rushtonís viewpoint, as well. She can be mean-spirited, but we learn that she really isnít a bad person, at least not deep inside. Her constantly bickering parents donít give her enough attention, so she tries to get it any other way she can - even if it means treating others, like Emily, badly. Mandy doesnít feel thatís what sheís doing, though. To her, Emily is trying to draw attention away from her, and she canít let that happen. She still does some terrible things in the book, including going along with her fatherís attempt to kidnap Emily, put her on display, and charge admission for people to see her, but she comes through for Emily in the end.

Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep is a suspenseful story that keeps the reader rooting for the heroine turning pages to find out how her life will turn out - and how she can overcome the kraken. Youíll have to suspend your sense of disbelief, of course; I had to tell myself now and then, ďSure, people canít talk under water, Brain - now just shut up, itís only a story, go along with it!Ē It is a very strong follow-up to The Tail of Emily Windsnap, one which can be enjoyed on its own even if you havenít read the first book. If you like mermaids and monsters, youíll want to add this book to your reading list!

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  Douglas R. Cobb/2007 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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