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Selkie Girl Library Binding – October 14, 2008

3.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6–9—An extraordinary, beautifully written tale about belonging, love, and the laws of nature. Sixteen-year-old Elin Jean lives in the Orkney Islands north of Scotland and is magnetically drawn to the sea. She knows she is different because of the webbing between her fingers that regenerates if it is cut. Though her father loves her mother, their relationship is tarnished by a mysterious underlying discord. He is determined to make Elin a normal girl by repeatedly cutting the webbing while her mother desperately tries to shield her from pain. Her compassionate grandfather pushes her to discover the truth for herself. Elin is attracted to Tam, a Gypsy boy in town. Her physical strangeness and his heritage set them apart from those around them, but perhaps this helps bring them together. By chance, Elin finds a seal skin hidden above a door in her house and learns the truth about her origins. The discovery is simultaneously freeing and burdensome. Brooks's rich prose reverberates with vivid, cinematic images. The author succeeds in conveying the fully fleshed-out characters' anguish and conflict. This marvelous offering brings to mind Alice Hoffman's Indigo (2002) and Karen Hesse's The Music of Dolphins (1996, both Scholastic). It's not to be missed.—Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Although the flowery pink-and-turquoise cover art suggests a sweet, girly mermaid story, Brooks’ brooding, romantic tale of a shape-shifting seal-girl is drawn straight from Celtic folklore. Her mother is a selkie (a seal/human shape-shifter), her father is human, but Elin Jean belongs nowhere. Her misshapen hands and webbed fingers mark her as a freak in her small island village, and her efforts to prevent the annual culling of seal pups enrage local fishermen. Her only defender is another outcast, Tam, the son of a gypsy peddler. But when Elin Jean finds her mother’s seal skin and follows her into the sea, she finds she is a freak in the selkie world, too. Is Elin Jean the girl-seal of selkie prophecy destined to change their world forever? Brooks’ coming-of-age story is full of secrets, teenage angst, fierce longing to belong, dramatic rescues, revenge, and true love. Her tone mimics traditional lore: appropriately dark, moody, and satisfyingly old-fashioned. Suggest this to girls who enjoyed Berlie Doherty’s Daughter of the Sea (1997), a selkie story for younger readers. Grades 6-9. --Chris Sherman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Library Binding: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375951709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375951701
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,629,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This mythological tale is a coming-of-age story told in the first person by a sixteen year old female who is half seal and half human--a selkie. Part One of the book is The Land, and Part Two, The Sea. I thought at first the language was too descriptive and willowy, but this style really fit the cadence of the story and its watery element. The human father is a real guttersnipe, and rather detrimental to the story. It's an interesting read, more so to me because I love tales of this kind, having to do with the North Sea. I recommend it for girls ages twelve to fifteen who like a nice dreamy story, and it has a nice bit of first love in it. Precocious and more sophisticated girls probably will not like it.
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Format: Paperback
Cute. I hate to say this one didn't leave a huge lasting impression on me, but I did enjoy reading it.

The writing style was probably my favorite part. The author used great imagery throughout the book. I could imagine the salty taste of the ocean spray as I read about Elin Jean's adventures. It was very realistic. The author also did a fantastic job of developing the setting. Selkies are part of the Scottish folklore, so it is only natural that this tale takes place somewhere near there. Although it doesn't come outright say where, you get the impression that you are on some tiny island near Scotland. The dialect is very distinct, so get your context clues strategies ready.

As far as the story goes, it's a fast read with straight forward action. Elin Jean has a few tough decisions to make, which lead to an interesting outcome. I can't say too much about it without giving away the story. What I can say, though, is that this is a coming of age story at its heart. It is all about Elin Jean finding herself and her place in the world. That theme makes it easy to relate to for middle grade readers-- whether they are part selkie themselves or not.
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Format: Hardcover
Selkie Girl is a story set in Shapinsay Island which is one of the Orkney Islands off the north coast of mainland Scotland. This story is inspired by Selkie legends where a Selkie is a creature that is half human and half Seal.

Elin Jean has always felt like an outcast in her village. She has fingers which are connected by thin webs that make her the object of ridicule in the village. She spends most of her time in isolation seeking solace from the Ocean. She lives with her parents and her grandfather. But no one has ever been open to her about why she is so different from the others.

She would come to know in time, yes, but it will change her life, turn it upside down and will lead her on a journey into the unknown. She will have to find a purpose and a place to belong.

Selkie Girl is a magical book. The setting is beautiful and mythical. Laurie Brooks writing creates an imagery so vivid that you can feel and imagine the vastness of the ocean, the horror of the seals fate, the beauty of the land and Elin Jean's struggle to belong either on land or in the sea. The author has taken the Selkie legend and turned it into something else.

I could give you one example of the beautiful writing here:

"Here is a roaring power to be reckoned with, this channel where the North Sea meets the mighty Atlantic. At odds with each other, the two bodies collide, churning into waves that can rise to forty feet. As change-able as the weather that reigns over it, the channel rests, mild as a newborn lamb, until the wind shifts it into raging tides that can catch the most experienced sailor unawares. And in a storm, the waves stretch as tall as mountains, white peaks battling for domain over the waterway. Even the thought of these storms humbles the others.
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Format: Paperback
I found this book fascinating and intriguing. The language is beautiful, the story, while not unique, definitely has its own flavor, and the romance....is out of place.

Honestly, I loved every part where Tam did not appear. However, Elin Jean's relationship with him seems forced and contrived, and strikes me as 'stupid teenage love'. It's not real. It won't last. It has no cause.

On the other hand, Tam provides Elin Jean with a connection to her human side. That seems to be the entire purpose of his presence. So, while the book is definitely worth reading, one could stop after Elin Jean returns to care for her father and not feel like anything's been left out.
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