( 4 )


Secrets have a way of floating to the surface. . . . Mystery, compelling characters, and an abandoned town beneath a lake make for a must-read adventure.

On the day Cassie was born, they drowned her town. The mayor flipped a lever and everyone cheered as Old Lower Grange was submerged beneath five thousand swimming pools’ worth of water. Now, twelve years later, Cassie feels drawn to the manmade lake and the mysteries it hides — and she’s not the only one. Her classmate Liam, ...

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Secrets have a way of floating to the surface. . . . Mystery, compelling characters, and an abandoned town beneath a lake make for a must-read adventure.

On the day Cassie was born, they drowned her town. The mayor flipped a lever and everyone cheered as Old Lower Grange was submerged beneath five thousand swimming pools’ worth of water. Now, twelve years later, Cassie feels drawn to the manmade lake and the mysteries it hides — and she’s not the only one. Her classmate Liam, who wears oversized swim trunks to cover the scars on his legs, joins Cassie in her daily swims across the off-limits side of the lake. As the summer heats up, the water drops lower and lower, offering them glimpses of the ghostly town and uncovering secrets one prominent town figure seems anxious to keep submerged. But like a swimmer who ventures too far from shore, Cassie realizes she can’t turn back. Can she bring their suspicions to light before it’s too late — and does she dare?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A poetic sensibility shines through this coming-of-age mystery from McKinlay (Duck for a Day), first published in Australia. Twelve-year-old Cassie feels like a fifth wheel in her family, having been born eight years after her older siblings. Cassie was also the first baby born in the Australian town of New Lower Grange, which was established after the intentional flooding of the previous town to accommodate a dam. Cassie swims six laps every day at the local pool to keep her lungs strong (she was born eight weeks early), but she feels the pull of the forbidden lake above Old Lower Grange. There, she is joined by Liam, a classmate whose life was altered in a tragic accident, and together they search for the truth about the town’s past as its centenary celebration approaches. The weight of personal history hangs over McKinlay’s story, and she strongly evokes the claustrophobia of a small town where well-meaning people all know each other’s business. There’s also a very real sense of excitement and danger as Cassie tries to unearth the lake’s secrets, making her triumph all the sweeter. Ages 9–12. (May)
From the Publisher
A poetic sensibility shines through this coming-of-age mystery from McKinlay.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Kirkus Reviews
A 12-year-old girl discovers a town secret hidden under thousands of gallons of water in this earnest, thematically rich exploration of the relationship between history and truth. Cassie Romano was the first baby to be born in the town of New Lower Grange, which replaced Old Lower Grange when Mayor Finkle "flipped the lever" turning the old town into an artificial lake and dam site. Since she was little, Cassie has been fascinated by the drowned town, which, together with New Lower Grange, is about to celebrate its centennial. Cassie's much older sister is making the celebration's centenary book, which Cassie feels whitewashes history, as it only shows the positive side of the changeover. Narrated in the first person by its likable protagonist, this quirky but thoughtful not-quite-mystery teams Cassie with Liam, a boy with an unfortunate personal history of his own. Together, the two kids swim on the side of the lake that is closed to the public, where dropping water levels reveal hazy but tantalizing impressions of Old Lower Grange. Although the author does a masterful job of making sure all the pieces fit at the end, the central mystery is hard to buy. This is mitigated by a reasonably suspenseful climax, an earned family solidarity message and the lesson: that to find the truth, one must delve below the surface. A quietly intriguing meditation on history and truth. (Fiction. 9-12)
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—On the day Cassie was born, her town was drowned; the New Lower Grange replaced the old one but without its history. Cassie feels responsible somehow that her early birth disconnected her family from their past. As she turns 12, she finds herself drawn to the lake that now covers the town she has only heard stories about. Her mother insists that daily swims in the town pool are important to strengthen her lungs, but Cassie is distracted by Band-Aids in the water, the cruelty of more popular kids, and her own self-consciousness. But the now officially forbidden lake is quiet, removed, and very appealing. During the dry, hot summer, the lake gradually recedes as Cassie's friendship with a classmate, a surprisingly kindred spirit, develops. Together Liam and Cassie uncover the mysteries of Old Lower Grange hidden below the lake and see how their lives have been changed by those secrets. Though pacing is initially slowed by Cassie's introspection, readers will hold their breath as she challenges herself, swimming far into the forbidden side of the lake as the story unfolds. Her voice is convincing as she and Liam glimpse more of the drowned town. By novel's end, the town and all of its residents come to grips with the past and look forward to a bright, swimming future. Readers will enjoy spending time with Cassie and Liam and will appreciate the satisfying resolution.—Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763661267
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 5/14/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,473,391
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Meg McKinlay is the author of many books for children, including the picture book No Bears and the chapter book Duck for a Day, both illustrated by Leila Rudge. About Below, she says, “When I was thirteen, I stood on the edge of a drowned town, and that image has haunted me ever since. It’s thrilling to see it come to life all these years later in the shape of a story.” Meg McKinlay lives in Australia.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2013


    Four and a half stars! ( it won't let you put down for and a half ) This is a pretty good book!!! I would recommend this book to to sixth and seventh graders.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2014

    War torn

    Nursed percy smiling

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 1, 2014

    This book surprised me, which is something that rarely happens a

    This book surprised me, which is something that rarely happens and it is typically something small. However this book was an all around surprising book for me and I definitely wouldn't have been able to guess how it ended, let alone what happened in the middle. Trust that it has a happy ending. Truthfully I hadn't realized that the town was legitimately submerged underneath water and so was the town's secrets. The plot flowed easily which made it that much easier to slip into the life of the main character as she struggled between who she is and the past that she didn't have a chance to be a part of. 
    Cassie, the main character, was born early - that much was made clear. Perhaps, she shouldn't have been born at all or so some people believe. It would be hard to tear your family away from the triumphant moment when the town sunk beneath the water especially when it seems to haunt you since you were born. Despite all of the things that seem to be against her, she is amazingly smart and she has a vast knowledge about the town that she never saw - a town she never got the chance to know. Her lungs, under developed from her early birth, only seems to encourage her desire to see the town even if it is just from the surface of the lake as she swims across. Her intuitive nature and her desire for answers are what drives the whole story and it definitely brings about answers that will shock people. 
    I was actually surprised with Liam, simply because he became a character that was so different from what I had conceived he would be. His life is what I would think would be the definition of hard, at least for me. He was born along with his twin brother in the original town, awhile prior to the idea of drowning the town was discussed. However he became deformed when his family got in an accident which killed his twin brother and forever changed his father from the man he once had been. Liam partly blames himself and because of that Cassie was able to form a connection with him. I think he has a crush on her though and in many ways I think they are perfect for each other. He is a great kid that loves his family and looks out for his dad. Not what I expected but something I definitely loved. 
    Her parents are polar opposites from each other and yet they both attempt to show Cassie love in their own unique way which sometimes only seems to hinder their relationship with them. It's clear they didn't want another kid and didn't need one, so how can they have some deep bond that most claim to have with their kids? Her mom is a history teacher, who had taken off time to raise a family and once the two older kids had gotten older, returned to work. She practically raised Cassie in the class room. She is overly protective of her and certainly treats her other kids different. Cassie sees that it is unfair. Her dad is the artist of the family and a free spirit. He doesn't see the world like everyone else and he takes a more gentle approach with how to love his youngest child. He allows Cassie to watch him create and shares secrets with her that he would not share with anyone else.
    I really liked this book. So check it out!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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