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Daughter of the Sea Hardcover – September 15, 1997

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Doherty (Snake Stone, 1996, etc.) works a generous handful of selkie legends into this somber tale, set on an isolated northern island where ``men haunt the sea . . . and it is said that the people of the sea haunt the land.'' Caught in a freak storm, a childless fisherman finds a baby floating next to his boat, and brings it home to his wife, Jannet. They name her Gioga and raise her as their own, despite the warnings of a peculiar, seemingly deranged villager, Eilean. Gioga's real father, calling himself Hill Marliner, appears twice to take her back; twice he relents at Jannet's pleading; when Hill Marliner returns a third time, Jannet shoots him. Dead, he becomes a great seal. Wailing with grief, a wave of seals attacks the village's boats and catch, and a wild storm comes up. Sacrificing herself to quiet the storm, Eilean sends Jannet's husband to bring Gioga back, and tells a young villager the location of the sealskin that will allow the child to go back to her people. This is without the emotional impact of Donna Jo Napoli's Zel (1996), another story of a woman loving a child beyond sanity, but those captivated by other selkie tales will find a full measure of magic and mystery here. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 11-13) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Review

"Evokes overwhelming joy and sadness" Daily Telegraph "Tension, emotional honesty and more than a touch of cold northern poetry as well" -- Philip Pullman Guardian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: DK CHILDREN; 1st American ed edition (September 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078942469X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789424693
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.6 x 5.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,741,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By GT on February 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A great fable based upon many of the Selkie legends from different lands. A childless couple raise as their own a baby girl the husband found one night floating in the sea during a storm. Munroe suspects right away that this child is one of the Selkies (seal-people) but keeps the secret from his wife Jannet. But when a mysterious stranger returns years later asking for the return of his child, the desperate woman tries to hide the child - and brings upon her village the anger of the sea and the seal people. Finally their daughter must chose for herself whether to return to the sea, or stay with the people she has grown to love as her parents. A great addition to lovers of tales of the Selkie.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The origin of the legend of the selkie is an oddity to me. What was it about the seals of the British Isles that struck islanders as mysterious and mildly frightening? I can understand why they were sometimes mistaken for humans and mermaids. In the water a seal is as lithe and graceful as it is bulky and sluggish on land. Still, there have been a fair amount of selkie tales that place the mysterious creatures firmly into the realm of the creepy. From Mollie Hunter's dark, "A Stranger Came Ashore" to Eve Ibbotson's light-hearted but sometimes dour, "Island of the Aunts", these wondrous creatures have inspired a great number of children's authors to weave together tales of the selkies of the deep. With "Daughter of the Sea", author Berlie Doherty strives to do the same.

Jannet and Munroe were not meant to find the sleeping babe floating between the rocks of the skerries. But find the child they did, and in their childless state the dearest wish of their hearts has come true. They've been given a daughter of their own to raise and love. Watching enviously from her beachside home, indigent Eilean o da Freya watches the gift that should have been hers as the child grows and learns. Eilean understands exactly what little Gioga (as her parents have named her) is and she will use this knowledge carefully in the future. Meanwhile, mysterious creatures from the deep are preparing to take the girl back with them. If Jannet and Munroe resist, they may find themselves in a deeper muddle than they ever could have imagined.

Doherty has penned a rather classic tale. "Daughter of the Sea" follows in the tradition of all those classic fairy tales about children that don't quite belong.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The first time I read this book, it was in the National Library. It seemed to be calling to me from the shelves. And, it certainly was magical, all that I could have asked for and more. It's so haunting and full of beauty, it draws you into the story, yet somehow the characters seem so far away and untouchable, like they're in their own world. When the story, finally ended, I was like, oh! Gone! Just like that. It slips away even before you can reach out and grab it, and then you're left wondering what happened.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Berlie Doherty weaves a spellbinding and mystical mixture of old folk tales into this enchanting story.She Makes us empathise and feel for each of the characters.We understand and feel their pains.I have thoroughly enjoyed this book ,it is one that can be read over and over again. My class of year 6 children have been enthralled by the story and hung upon every word. Berlie Doherty has become our favourite author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I did enjoy this book, but I have to say that it's quite strange! It's quite hard to explain what it's like, really. It was certainly out of the ordinary; a magical story is a way to describe it, but nothing like the usual witches and dragons. All I can really say is that this book was very good, but different from anything I've ever read!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Wow. Where to begin with this one? Um...
I really wanted to like this book. I promise I did. I haven't read any selkie stories, so I was pretty stoked when I found this one on the shelf at the library. I also thought the hidden references to Irish and Celtic mythology was promising. In fact, I was a little excited... but then I started reading the book. Whoa Nelly.
The story is ok. It's not all that exciting, but it wasn't horrific either. There was a plot and a few interesting characters that made things lively. I'll be honest though, some parts of this book just freaked me out. For instance, right up front when the old man finds the baby in the water and brings her home. What happens? His wife tries to breastfeed the babe to "see how it feels" (direct quote) and magically starts lactating. Now, this woman is described as someone in her 50s or older. I was totally freaked out by that scene. It just screams psycho in my mind, but whatever. I'm sure that scene was found someone in mythology, or at least I hope it was because it was too weird otherwise.
I did enjoy searching for the parts of the story that were based on mythology. The author did a really good job of weaving everything together so that it became difficult to tell what was an original idea and what was myth. I was already familiar with the story of Sedna from Inuit mythology, so when the crazy lady told Gioga about how her kinfolk (the seals) were made, I got that reference right away. The flip side of this is, however, that since this story is based on so many different myths from various cultures, it feels choppy in some places. There were just key parts of the plot that didn't fit perfectly. And with only 128 pages, it was hard to form any connections to the characters. They all felt flat.
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