Friday, March 6, 2015

Review: Secrets Beneath the Sea by Janet Gurtler

Like most 12-year-old girls, Shyanna, Rachel, and Cora deal with the daily dramas of growing up. Unlike most 12-year-old girls, they deal with it underwater as mermaids. The allure of life on land is a constant presence in the life of a mermaid, and friendships are tested with secrets, lies, and jealousy.
For ages 7-10.
*Mermaids are a popular topic
*Themes of friendship and family are relatable to girls at this age
*The point-of-view changes throughout the story, developing perspective, an important part of the Common Core standards

Mermaids aren't high up on my list of favorite mythical creatures, but it didn't stop me from enjoying this book.

In Secrets Beneath the Sea, we meet three young mermaids. Shyanna is a young girl who wants to perform at a pageant in the hopes that it will help her mother start singing again. Rachel, on the other hand, is the new girl in Neptunia, who is hiding a secret. Finally, Cora has always dreamed of joining the Spirit Squad, but will the experience be as good as she imagines it to be?

The book starts off with an introduction to the rules governing the mermaid world in the book. Some of the rules are repeated again throughout the book, but starting off with this really helps readers understand that the book plays around with the mermaid legend a little bit.

What I liked about this book is the fact that even though it's meant for 7-10 year-olds, they talk about deeper issues than just sleepovers and the typical friendship problems you see in other books. Shyanna and Rachel live in single-parent households. Cora takes care of her siblings since her parents are busy and she has a lot of sisters, Rachel is different and has been bullied before and is treated badly by some other girls again. Plenty of girls have similar experiences to these three and there aren't a lot of books with protagonists like them. It's nice that girls can read about these mermaids and realize that they are not alone.

The book champions diversity and celebrating differences. The characters in the book have different skin colors and hair colors but the only mention of race is that of humans and merpeople. Even then, most of the characters don't really have a problem with humans.

The book's illustrations were quite pretty and the style and way they were rendered reminds me of stained-glass windows.

One thing I did notice, though, which may be corrected in the final copy is that the caption for Cora's picture before her story says her name is Cora Bass. However, her story mentions her name as Cora Bell.

Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone Young Readers for the e-ARC.


  1. It is pro-diversity.
  2. It tackles deep issues.
  3. The drawings are beautiful. 


  1. The Royal Mercouple's interventions sometimes felt a little too convenient.


  1. Your child likes mermaids.
  2. You want to instill in your child the idea that race shouldn't matter.
  3. Your child likes swimming and spending time at the beach. 



Note: This post contains Amazon and Book Depository affiliate links.

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