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Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits Paperback – October 21, 2004


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1180L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Firebird (October 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142402443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142402443
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #957,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Each highly respected authors in their own right, husband and wife Dickinson (The Ropemaker) and McKinley (Spindle's End) collaborate for the first time on a collection of enchanting tales linked by an aquatic theme. Infused with selkie legends and Greek and Roman underworld myths, the tales possess a consistently compelling, rhythmic tone, despite the fact that the authors alternate in the tellings. Dickinson's opening "Mermaid Song" sets the tone for a tenuous relationship between those who dwell on sand and in sea; only the landsman who has listened to the stories passed down through generations can accord the sea its proper respect. McKinley's "The Sea-King's Son" builds on the traditional tale of the Sea-King's daughter who falls in love with a musician, but with a satisfying twist. Taken together, the installments also raise some thought-provoking issues. In "Mermaid Song," for instance, Pitiable Nasmith must lie in order to escape her grandfather's abusive home, while Hetta in "A Pool in the Desert" struggles with what constitutes truth. The workings of the Guardians' magic in McKinley's "Water Horse" remains mysterious, and Dickinson never entirely explains the gender-divided mythology in "Sea Serpent" but fans of myths won't mind filling in the gaps. These creative interpretations brim with suspenseful, chilling and wonderfully supernatural scenes, from Iril's daring plan to kill the murderous sea serpent to Hetta's literal leap of faith. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up-Two generally brilliant writers alternate first-rate tales in this six-story collection. McKinley allows hearts' desires to be achieved in all three of her contributions: one young woman braves a curse and falls in love with "The Sea-King's Son"; another discovers her own subtle kind of magic in defeating a giant, wildly destructive "Water Horse." A third dreams of Damar, the setting of McKinley's Blue Sword (1982) and Hero and the Crown (1984, both Greenwillow), then finds a way to travel there, escaping through space and time from a soul-deadening existence. In Dickinson's tales, which are darker in tone, a "Mermaid Song" helps an abused child escape her violent father; a lame ferryman, caught in a struggle between old gods and new, battles an immense "Sea Serpent"; and while helping to save human lovers from drowning, a mer-princess draws the attention of an immortal, coldly alien "Kraken" from the deeps. The masterfully written stories all feature distinct, richly detailed casts and settings, are free of the woodenly formal language that plagues so much fantasy, and focus as strongly on action as on character. There's plenty here to excite, enthrall, and move even the pickiest readers.
John Peters, New York Public Library
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Robin McKinley has won various awards and citations for her writing, including the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown and a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword. Her other books include Sunshine; the New York Times bestseller Spindle's End; two novel-length retellings of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Beauty and Rose Daughter; and a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, The Outlaws of Sherwood. She lives with her husband, the English writer Peter Dickinson.

Customer Reviews

This is a book of short stories by Robin McKinley and her husband Peter Dickinson.
garenkay
I really enjoyed this book, it has great stories, some of them have stayed in my mind since I read them, so I have this book near my bed to come back to them.
Fiorela O.
Overall, the stories were well worth reading and were a great source of entertainment and enjoyment.
S. Barker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By S. Barker on July 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've been a fan of McKinley's writing ever since I randomly selected "Spindle's End" off the shelf at the local Borders, and so when I discovered the collection of short stories put together by her and her husband Peter Dickenson (all based around my favorite of the four elements), I was thrilled.

Once again, Robin has not let me down in her production of fantastic tales. From the hopeful, innocent, and adorably naive Sea-King's Son to the continuance of her famous Damarian stories, I was sucked into the worlds that Robin creates once again and came out the other side with a smile on my face.

Peter Dickenson's stories were a delightfully dark contrast to Robin's upbeat and cheerful writing style. I admit that, at first, I found his stories to be slightly dry and slow (though The Kraken was wonderful), and even left off reading Sea Serpent for boredom. However, just this past week, I decided to give the story another go, as it was the only one in the book I hadn't read and I was desperate for new material. It took me but a few pages to realize that he was, in fact, writing about one of my favorite subjects: Arthurian Legend. I'd read in one of the other customer reviews that they felt that the gender-issues presented in this story were never fully explained. They must have, however, not caught the obvious references to Merlin, Stonehenge, the English Channel, and the battle between Christianity and Paganism (the male Church vs. the priestesses of Avalon). After seeing the connection, I paid closer attention to the story and, while it didn't become my favorite, it certainly raised my opinion of Dickenson as a writer.

Overall, the stories were well worth reading and were a great source of entertainment and enjoyment. I can only hope that the pair will release a book for each of the other three elements. Congrats Robin and Peter, you did a great job.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michele L. Worley on December 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
On the whole, I was drawn into RM's stories more quickly than PD's (my favourites are "The Sea King's Son" and "The Water Horse"), although after repeated exposure I've developed some liking for two of his three. McKinley's stories herein seem to me to have more detailed and polished world-building. None of the six, to my knowledge, have been published previously.

"Mermaid Song" (PD) Setting = very like Puritan New England. (I'd have enjoyed it more if PD had simply made it an alternate Puritan history.) While the mundane setting may be off-putting at first, the sea-people's introduction is well handled when it comes. In a way, this is two stories - a family tradition (handed down from mother to daughter) and the story of the protagonist, young Pitiable Nasmith, left with her maternal grandparents upon her mother's death in childbirth.

Near the end of her life, Pitiable's grandmother tells her the story behind the most unusual of her songs - how their ancestress Charity Goodrich really survived shipwreck upon arriving in the new world as a girl. Although the People's culture isn't fleshed out much, the first contact scene between Charity and her sea-children rescuers is realistically detailed. In a neat reversal of some sea-people stories, the air-breathing person was a pet, kept in an undersea cave with no way out.

The present-day story turns grim when the grandfather takes to drink after his wife's death, which seems to have quenched what little of his heart survived his daughter's passing. Eventually he takes to walking along the seashore, and finds something that only Pitiable has learned to recognize, shaping up to a possible reversal of the secret tradition.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 2, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a major Robin McKinley fan. What I love best is her facility with the English language. For someone who reads with an internal ear to the music of the written word, her prose is rich with melody and grace.
If you expect Peter Dickinson's writing to be like McKinley's, you will be disappointed. His voice is very different - a sparer cello & oboe melody compared to her dancing flutes and trumpets. It's not better or worse, but it is different. His stories are more stark. The themes are darker. But they have their own beauty.
I also really enjoyed the one Damarian tale. As McKinley's writing has matured, her female heroines have become less fairy princesses, and more survivors who find it within themselves to meet challenges and endure. Her heroes also have a few more realistic warts. This story is about a survivor. A woman who keeps her soul intact against all odds, and ultimately finds it within herself (with her sister's encouragement) to follow her dreams and change her destiny. I also liked that it was set in the present day. Perhaps there's just to much realism in it for some - we all know creeps like Hetta's parents - but I think that makes it even more satisfying. Who needs dreams more than those whose reality is a prison?
In any case, if you read the book, read it one story at a time, and enjoy the changing voices.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book contains six short stories, three by each author. They all have something to do with water and the spirits or powers therein. "Mermaid Song" tells of poor Pitiable, who lives a wretched and abused life with her grandfather, and who discovers a mermaid trapped in a shallow pool by the receding tide. "The Sea-King's Son" tells of a land girl who falls in love with a water man. "Sea Serpent" relates of the woes begotten by a viscious serpent conjured by a woman on her betrayers. "Water Horse" being another oppressed girl who is chosen to apprentice one of the Gaurdian's of their island. "Kraken" relates the tale of a merprincess who rescues a man and his lady love from drowning, only to have to give them and herself up to the Kraken. "A Pool in the Desert" speaks of yet another oppressed girl, who dreams her way into Damar.
I personally had never read any of Peter Dickinson's work, but if these stories are any example, I wont be. His stories are oppressive, and his characters are colorless, his descriptions unenthusiastic. I dutifully read each story in turn, but it was very difficult to keep from skipping his. I absolutely adore Robin McKinley on the other hand. Unfortunatly, her work also seemed to contain a very depressed vein. Her other books make you feel for the characters and the land. They are rich and vibrant, I never wanted "The Hero and The Crown" to end, while I felt like I was slogging through these stories. "Water" should not be used as a judgement of her talent. For the die hard McKinley fans, it ought to be read simply for her contributions which, while not her best, far exceed Dickinson's attempts. If you are looking for Mckinley's short works I highly recommend "The Door in The Hedge" or "A Knot in the Grain". Both of these easily surpass "Water".
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