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The Tail of Emily Windsnap Paperback – March 14, 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 380 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6–Seventh-grader Emily Windsnap has never learned to swim, in spite of the fact that she and her mother live on a houseboat. When she finally takes a swimming class at school, her legs turn into a fishtail. She tries to hide her strange affliction, but something draws her to the sparkling surf. Soon, she is secretly gliding through the water as a mermaid. Below the waves, she meets Shona, also 12, who takes her to mermaid school and leads her on several adventures. When Emily learns the intriguing history of the Shiprock community and of illegal marriages between humans and merpeople, she begins to look for her merman father. Danger, humor, confrontation, and even a trial before Neptune all play a part in her search. Eventually, she finds her dad and comes to understand the truth about her oddly controlling neighbor, Mr. Beeston; her mother's dislike of water; and her parents' love affair. All ends well when the family is reunited and swims away to live a new life on a secret merfolk island. This fantasy has some delightful moments, but not enough to keep it afloat. Characters are not fully developed, the plot wavers between complicated and oversimplified, and the transition from merworld to human is not smooth.–Beth Tegart, Oneida City Schools, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Booklist

Gr. 4-7. This first novel opens with a classic teaser: "Can you keep a secret?" It turns out that the secret is a particularly juicy one. Though outwardly a normal seventh-grader, Emily Windsnap transforms into a mermaid when she goes swimming. The phenomenon worries her but thrills her, too, especially when she discovers an underwater "mer-city" not far from where she lives, and begins to learn the answers to nagging questions about her origins: Why did her father abandon her when she was a baby? Why can't her mother remember details about her husband? After a new mermaid friend mentions "illegal marriages" between mer-people and humans, readers will guess where things are headed--long before Emily herself does. Emily's eventual reunion with her merman father seems overly reliant on luck and coincidence, but her determination keeps things cruising along, and the premise of someone slipping easily into a shimmery underwater world has considerable allure. Light, imagination-tickling fare ideal for middle-grade girls, with charming ink-wash illustrations scattered throughout. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 600L (What's this?)
  • Series: Emily Windsnap
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (March 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763628115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763628116
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (380 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,449,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
My 10 year old daughter and I read this one together. It was an impulse buy, so I didn't know what to expect. We loved this book. It really captures what it would be like for Emily to discover the changes she is going through (might also be helpful for girls going through puberty). The mystery developed nicely with just enough clues to keep the reader (young and old-er) turning pages. My daughter would beg for more time whenever we had to put the book down. Also as a teacher and a writer, this story is well-written, with great characters, good dialogue and terrific description. I am off to look for another Liz Kessler book!
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Format: Hardcover
I read and finished this book VERY quickly, why? Because this is a dream that every girl would love, becoming a mermaid. This is a tail... I mean TALE about a girl named Emily that transforms into a mermaid only when she sets foot in the water and is human on land. She is a half mermaid half human because she soon discovered that her mother married a merman. In the deep blue sea this is apparently illegal so the father gets locked up in a underwater prison. Emily wants to meet her father badly so takes the risk of breaking into the jail. Please read this book.....it's a book EVERYONE can enjoy!
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Format: Paperback
*First things first, anyone who loves Harry Potter and thinks this book will be like it, is wrong. I found it completely different. (I myself don't care for HP). It was written differently and was about a totally different fantasy.*
I read this book with total fascination. I felt like I was going through the hardships with Emily Windsnap. The author could not have described the underwater terrain more clearly and I could really picture what was going on in my head. The feelings characters felt and expressions they made came naturallly to me when I read the descriptions. The author timed all of the dillemas, miracles, sad scenes, and action scenes just right. Even the feeling of suspense was there when you needed it! The tale is dramatic and encasing, I never doubted that what I was reading could actually happen. A perfectly timed, real, fun novel I hope you pick up.
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Format: Paperback
When I got this book I couldn't wait to start reading,I started reading as soon as I opened the box! I actually finished it in one day because it was that good.This book is now officially my favorite book of all time.I read the third book first so I really didn't know what was going on. Oops! but when I read this one it all made sense.The main characters in this book are Emily Windsnap, Shona Silkfin,Emily's best friend, Mary P. Emily's mom, Mr.Beeston a "friend" of Emily's mom,and Millie, Emily's "babysitter".When Emily's mom leaves to a book club, and Millie is sound asleep on the couch, Emily sneaks out and goes into the water.(I forgot to tell you they live on a house boat) She's in the water and realizes,"What am I doing!" While she's struggling and trying to grab on to something,and her legs feel like their glued together, the feeling finally goes away,she realizes that she just turned into a mermaid! This is certainly a TAIL to remember,and it's a real page turner too! This is a book you have to read! Get this book,its well worth it!
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Format: Hardcover
Twelve-year-old Emily Windsnap lives on a houseboat in Brightport Harbor, but she has never learned to swim. Even though Emily begs for swimming lessons, her mom always says no. Finally, Emily persuades her mother to let her take swim class at her new school. When Emily hits the water, she gets the surprise of her life. Her long skinny legs have turned into a tail. That's right --- Emily is a mermaid!
All of a sudden, Emily's life is full of questions. Are there more mermaids out there like her? Why does her mom never seem to remember Emily's father, who left when Emily was just a baby? Who is the mysterious, menacing Mr. Beeston, who seems to be spying on Emily and her mother? And how can Emily get out of swim class before the rest of the seventh grade discovers her secret?
Emily is torn between happily exploring the undersea world of the mermaids and trying to solve the mystery of her father's disappearance. With the help of her new merfriend, Shona, Emily learns about mermaids and friendship at the same time.
Considering that this is a novel about magical creatures, THE TAIL OF EMILY WINDSNAP is surprisingly down-to-earth. Emily is a normal girl (in spite of that scaly tail), and her everyday worries about friends and family make the book seem realistic in spite of its fantastic premise. Readers will often be one or two steps ahead of Emily as she tries to solve the mystery --- Emily is sometimes a little slow to unravel the clues. Nevertheless, readers will be rooting for Emily to be reunited with her merfamily at last.
--- (...)
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Format: Hardcover
Underneath the magic of mermaids, this story is a close cousin of "The Parent Trap" (the 1998 film, not the 1961 one, as the cell phones and cultural references are current) with the margical flourishes of "Freaky Friday" and "The Little Mermaid" thrown in for good measure. This story has a future Disney production written all over it.

It is the emotional daydream of every pre-teen girl without a father at home, who imagines that her father could be a wonderful man who left for honorable reasons, wishes that her mom and dad could get together again, and longs for a new best friend. The mother-daughter dialog rings true; Millie, her mother's New Age obsessed friend is delightful; and the fast paced, first person narrative is captivating. My 8 year old daughter and 6 year old son enjoyed it.
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