4.1 50
by Alice Hoffman

View All Available Formats & Editions

Hailey and Claire are spending their last summer together when they discover something at the bottom of the murky pool at the Capri Beach Club. There in the depths is a mysterious and beautiful creature with a sharp tongue and a broken heart: a mermaid named Aquamarine who has left her six sisters to search for love on land. Now, as this mythological yet very real… See more details below

  • Checkmark Kids' Club Eligible  Shop Now


Hailey and Claire are spending their last summer together when they discover something at the bottom of the murky pool at the Capri Beach Club. There in the depths is a mysterious and beautiful creature with a sharp tongue and a broken heart: a mermaid named Aquamarine who has left her six sisters to search for love on land. Now, as this mythological yet very real being starts to fade in the burning August sun, a rescue is begun. On the edge of growing up, during a summer that is the hottest on record, Hailey and Claire are discovering that life can take an unpredictable course, friendship is forever, and magic can be found in the most unexpected places.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Teens enjoy many of Hoffman's adult novels, which often focus on young women. Her first book for middle-graders is about 12-year-old girls, Hailey and Claire, who have been neighbors and best friends forever. They don't want anything to change, but as the searing summer draws to a close, Claire has to move to Florida, and the bulldozers are closing in on the girls' beloved hangout near the ocean. Then they find a beautiful mermaid, Aquamarine, huddled in the beach pool. They send her home to her ocean sisters, but first they help her find love and adventure with the handsome guy who works in the snack bar. Of course, in helping the stranger, the girls transform themselves and face the changes in their lives. What's great here is Aquamarine. She's is no romantic forsaken damsel: she's a rude, rebellious teenager, as needy as those who help her. In this small, spacious book, Hoffman's spare words reveal the magic and the gritty realism in daily life, "somewhere between laughter and a wave breaking." Hazel Rochman, Booklist

Despite the girls' fear of change, everything shifts with a summer storm. At the beach club the next morning, Hailey and Claire find that the storm has left its mark, filling the cloudy waters of the swimming pool with jellyfish and seaweed. Hailey boldly dives in and discovers that the waves have also brought a delicate blue and white mermaid who is extremely grouchy at her predicament. The girls scheme to return the fish-woman to the sea, but she obstinately refuses to leave the vicinity of Raymond, the handsome boy who runs the gift shop. Alarmed at the mermaid's growing weakness, Hailey and Claire extract her promise to go back to the sea in exchange for one evening with Raymond. They set up a blind date, dress her in a long blue dress to hide her tail, and take her to the rendezvous in a wheelchair. But the next morning the dying mermaid is in love, and the patio is full of partygoers. Can the girls sneak her past all those eyes to save her life? And will she let them? Young teens will be entranced by the strange dreaminess of this poignant little story about love and loss. --

Publishers Weekly
AQUAMARINE Alice Hoffman. Two best friends share a mysterious secret: a mermaid at the bottom of the pool. PW wrote, "Hoffman creates an apt metaphor for that twilight time between childhood and adolescence when magic still seems possible and friendships run deep and true." Ages 10-14. (Apr) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hoffman's (Fireflies; The River King) novel for children focuses on two best friends who share a mysterious secret. The summer that Hailey and Claire are both 12 is bittersweet; come September, Claire will move to Florida with her grandparents. But in the meantime, the girls spend their days at their favorite hangout, the Capri Beach Club, which is slated for demolition and all but deserted, save for Raymond, the college-bound bookworm who runs the snack shop. After a violent storm, the girls discover a mermaid at the bottom of the pool. As the days pass, Aquamarine's health wanes on account of the chlorinated water, and the girls orchestrate a Cinderella-esque romantic evening between Aquamarine and Raymond on the condition that the mermaid return to the sea after that night, to heal. Hoffman creates an apt metaphor for that twilight time between childhood and adolescence when magic still seems possible and friendships run deep and true. Although her characters are sketched well, they are not fully realized; and while the language is lyrical (Aquamarine is "beautiful as a pearl" with a voice "as cool and fresh as bubbles rising from the ocean"), the narrative itself spins out in a coolly elegant, detached voice that evokes an adult's ("Maybe... they'd grow up and be just like all those other people who didn't know what it meant to have your best friend living right next door") and muffles much of the story's energy and potential. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Hoffman, known for her best-selling novels for adults, treats YAs to some of her trademark magic here. Best friends Hailey and Claire, both 12 years old, are spending their last summer together at the rundown Capri Beach Club before Claire moves away. They are terribly sad; they wish nothing would change. Then one morning after a big storm the girls discover a mermaid has washed up into the club pool—a rude and spoiled young mermaid, "beautiful as a pearl," named Aquamarine, who falls in love with the handsome boy who works at the snack bar and refuses to leave. The girls arrange a date between the two, and in their attempts to help Aquamarine, their roles start to shift. Fearful Claire learns to be brave, and impulsive Hailey learns to make plans. They help the mermaid to return to the sea, and gradually they start to accept the changes to come in their lives. This charming fantasy will draw upper elementary and middle school-aged girls; its fairy-tale and romantic elements will appeal to readers of these genres too. Hoffman evokes the bond between best friends and the atmosphere at the almost-abandoned beach club beautifully. The story's brevity—it's more of a novella than a novel—makes it a good choice for reluctant readers. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2001, Scholastic, 112p, $16.95. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; March 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 2)
Aquamarine is both realistic and fantasy fiction. Although brief, it lures the reader in because of the description and possibility of a love story. I think this book is better for fourth or fifth graders, however, because of the easy plot and simple vocabulary. For those of you who like an easy but satisfying read, it is highly recommended! VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2001, Scholastic, 112p, . Ages 12 to 14. Reviewer: Margo Schneier, Teen Reviewer SOURCE: VOYA, April 2001 (Vol. 24, No.1)
Children's Literature
Hailey and Claire are life-long friends with a bond as close as sisters. Now they are faced with the realization that they are sharing their last summer together, as Claire's family prepares to move. The two spend every waking moment at the once grand but now debilitated beach club, watching the tractors slowly demolish the place to make room for the new bird sanctuary. One day, Hailey and Claire meet Aquamarine, a spoiled and demanding mermaid who refuses to leave the old beach club pool until she meets the handsome snack bar cook. The girls must not only devise a plan to satisfy their new friend, but also one that maintains her anonymity and returns her to the sea before she perishes in the chlorinated pool water. Miraculously, Hailey and Claire are successful and begin to feel better about who they are and their future apart. One cannot help comparing this story to other well-known mermaid fantasies. There are strong similarities between Aquamarine and Ariel in Disney's Little Mermaid and Madison in the movie Splash. Hoffman fails to give this mermaid her own voice and therefore, the pleasure of a happy ending is lost. 2001, Scholastic Press, $16.95. Ages 7 to 12. Reviewer: Andrea Sears Andrews
School Library Journal
Gr 5-6-Hailey and Claire, along with Raymond the snack-counter guy, are the only people who spend time at the Capri Beach Club, which has fallen on hard times. The best friends are ruefully counting down the days until Claire moves to Florida with her grandparents. When a storm washes a bad-mannered mermaid named Aquamarine into the club pool, she falls in love with Raymond and begs the girls to help her win his heart. They agree, on the condition that she returns to the sea after her "date" with him. This book has some wonderful elements-there is some vivid imagery, especially when it comes to the setting, with its waves of heat and air of decay. There are also some lovely balances between the girls as they gradually exchange roles as either brave or clever, and they seem to take turns accepting the girl who will inevitably move in next door. Unfortunately, the narration puts too much space between readers and the story, leaving them unengaged. There is also the more practical question of why the beach club is still open even though Claire and Hailey are the only two who come each day. Finally, one of the things that Hoffman seems to do best in her adult novels is leisurely create characters that can walk right out of the story. She doesn't have the time or space here to do that and the result, sadly, is a very boring mermaid and two dull girls suffering from separation anxiety.-Patricia A. Dollisch, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Read More

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.78(h) x 0.28(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The next day, as soon as they got out of Hailey's mother's car in the parking lot, Hailey was the one who took charge. After all, she'd been the one to see the mermaid at the bottom of the pool, huddled in a murky corner, her long hair streaming. Claire wouldn't have ventured into the water for any reason, not even to see such a wondrous being

As they went through the entranceway to the Capri Beach Club, Hailey handed her friend a jar she'd stored in her backpack. Claire held the jar up to the light and tried her best to figure out what the slippery-looking things were inside.

"Herring," Hailey told her when Claire couldn't venture a guess. "It's a kind of marinated fish. I found it in the back of the pantry. Mermaids must get hungry. All we need to do is hide behind the diving board, and when she comes to the surface to eat, we can study her."

"Good plan," Claire said. At any other time, Claire would have been the one to come up with the plans, but lately she'd been up half the night, thinking about how her sweaters and boots would be pointless in Florida, and how the leaves wouldn't change in the fall, and how it would be summer all year long.

Hailey, herself, was somewhat surprised to find that she'd actually been the one with the ideas. "You really think it's a good plan?" she asked uncertainly.

"Excellent," Claire said, although she, too, was surprised at how quickly everything was changing already, even though it was still the same.

After they'd sprinkled the herring in the pool, the girls waited behind the diving board. Jellyfish floated on the surface of the water, and a few bubbles arose up from the deep, but there was no sign of the mermaid. Hours passed and the girls didn't move. Time was so slow, and the air was so hot, they almost fell asleep.

When they didn't show up at the snack bar for lunch, Raymond came looking for them.

"What happened to my only customers?" he asked. "I was worried. I thought the seagulls had carried you away."

Raymond sat on the edge of a lounge chair and gazed into the pool. He was so handsome that for a few minutes the girls forgot there was a mermaid nearby.

"What a disaster," Raymond said, looking around the beach club. "I should have taken a different job this summer, but I guess I got used to this place."

When he'd first come to the Capri, he'd been the assistant to the assistant cook at the snack bar, and at lunch time they'd all had to work like crazy just to fill the orders of hamburgers and sandwiches and fries. There were crowds of people and the air smelled like coconut-scented sunscreen. Not a single one of the chaise lounges would have been empty on a beautiful day such as this. But that was all in the past.

"I don't want it to end," Raymond admitted.

"We know," the girls said at the very same time. "Neither do we."

"Don't forget to come by and have a lemonade. My treat," Raymond said as he started back to the snack bar. "After all, there are only a few days left to the summer."

Hailey had always noticed that Raymond often read two books at a time, and Claire had always noticed that he was so kindhearted, he fed day-old bread to the seagulls that followed him as though he were their favorite person on earth. Now they both could tell he was almost as sad as they were about the Capri closing.

The girls had been watching Raymond so intently, it was a while before they realized that a mermaid had surfaced at the shallow end of the pool. Her hair was pale and silvery and her nails were a shimmering blue. Between each finger there was a thin webbing, of the sort you might find on a newborn seal or a duck.

"What are you two staring at?" the mermaid said, when she turned and saw the girls gaping.

Her voice was as cool and fresh as bubbles rising from the ocean. She was as beautiful as a pearl, with a faint turquoise tinge to her skin and eyes so blue they were the exact same color as the deepest sea. But her watery beauty didn't mean the mermaid knew her manners.

"Stop looking at me," she demanded, as she splashed at the girls. "Go away!"

The mermaid's name was Aquamarine and she was much ruder than most creatures you might find at sea. At sixteen, she was the youngest of seven sisters, and had always been spoiled. She'd been indulged and cared for and allowed to act up in ways no self-respecting mermaid ever would.

Her disagreeable temperament certainly hadn't improved after spending two nights in the pool, tossed there like a stone or a sea urchin at the height of the terrible storm. Chlorine had seeped into her sensitive skin and silver scales dropped from her long, graceful tail. She hadn't eaten anything more than a mouthful of that horrible herring the girls had strewn into the pool.

"You heard me," Aquamarine said to Hailey and Claire, who were mesmerized by her gleaming tail and by the way the mermaid could dive so quickly, she disappeared in a luminous flash. When she surfaced through the seaweed she was not pleased to see they were still there. "Scram," she said. "Stop bothering me."

The mermaid glided into the deep end of the pool, the better to see Raymond at the snack bar. She had been watching him ever since she found herself stranded in the pool. His was the first human face she saw. She gazed at him with a bewildered expression, the sure sign of a mermaid in love.

"They're closing the Capri at the end of the week. The pool is going to be drained," Hailey called to Aquamarine. "You're going to have to go back to where you came from by Saturday."

The mermaid started to pay attention. "Where will the people go?"

"What people?" Hailey said. "Everyone's already gone except for us."

"Not exactly." Claire nodded toward Raymond. "Not everyone."

"He's going on Saturday, too," Hailey said. "He's leaving for college."

As soon as Aquamarine heard this, she began to cry blue, freshwater tears. No mermaid wants to fall in love with a human, but it was already too late for poor Aquamarine to be sensible. A sensible mermaid never would have wandered away from her sisters during a storm the way Aquamarine had.

As for Hailey and Claire, they couldn't know that a mermaid in love is far more irrational than a jellyfish and more stubborn than a barnacle. "You'll just have to go back to the ocean," they advised her.

"I'm not going anywhere." Aquamarine's pale complexion flushed blue as she pouted. "I won't leave before I meet him."

Up at the snack bar, Raymond was whistling a tune as he cleaned up the counter. Aquamarine tilted her head to listen, hearkening to what she clearly believed was the most beautiful melody anyone had ever been privileged to hear, either on land or at sea.

"Oh," she sighed as she watched Raymond. Her elbows rested on the edge of the pool. Her sea-blue eyes were dreamy. "If he only knew how I felt about him."

"I really don't think he's your type," Claire said as politely as she could.

Aquamarine looked stricken. She had never been denied anything she wanted. "Of course he is," she said.

"Well, for one thing, he lives on land," Hailey reminded the mermaid.

"You are both so mean," Aquamarine cried. "You're meaner than my sisters, and probably just as jealous."

Since she'd been swept up by the storm and set down at the Capri, Aquamarine had felt a taste of freedom. More important than the terrible food and the chlorinated pool was the idea that she could do whatever she pleased. She tossed her head and fixed the girls with her sea-blue eyes. "No one can tell me what to do anymore. Not my sisters and certainly not you. Anyway, it's too late. I've already made up my mind. I'm staying right here for as long as I want to. And no one can tell me otherwise!"

At the end of the day, the girls ran to Claire's grandfather's car and when he said "What's new, Susie Q's?" they let out a gale of giggles, convinced that no one would believe that they'd stumbled upon a mermaid who refused to behave. When they got to Claire's grandparents' house, they raced past the half-packed boxes in the living room and looked through the crates of books in Claire's room, hoping to find a solution for Aquamarine's predicament. Although they discovered references to many unusual creatures of the deep, from dolphins that were said to rescue lost sailors to sea-serpents twice the size of a whale, they couldn't unearth a single bit of advice on what to do with a mermaid who'd fallen in love.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >