Thora: A Half-Mermaid Tale

Overview

Thora's no ordinary girl. She's got scales on her legs, purple feet, and a blowhole that squirts water from the top of her head. Thora's a half-mermaid. And as mermaid law commands, Thora must spend ten years at sea and ten years on land. In a houseboat called the Loki, Thora sails the seas with her mermaid mother, Halla, and guard ian, Mr. Walters. But following her tenth birthday, Thora heads to the seaside town of Grimli, where her father grew up.

In Grimli, fat-cat tycoon ...

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Overview

Thora's no ordinary girl. She's got scales on her legs, purple feet, and a blowhole that squirts water from the top of her head. Thora's a half-mermaid. And as mermaid law commands, Thora must spend ten years at sea and ten years on land. In a houseboat called the Loki, Thora sails the seas with her mermaid mother, Halla, and guard ian, Mr. Walters. But following her tenth birthday, Thora heads to the seaside town of Grimli, where her father grew up.

In Grimli, fat-cat tycoon Frooty de Mare will stop at nothing to expand his Tooty Frooty Enterprises. With the help of new friends and her pet peacock, Thora has her work cut out thwarting Frooty's evil plans — not to mention doing a bit of exploring into her own Grimli roots.

Gillian Johnson's fanciful tale captures the unflappable spirit of an exceptional young heroine who, despite being half-mermaid, somehow always manages to land on her feet.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
And what, you might ask, is a half-mermaid? Young Thora is half of the land and half of the sea, has scales on her legs, purple feet, and a blowhole that squirts water on the top of her head. As the old Sea Shrew says, speaking destiny to Thora's mother, rather than practicality, "If she can live between worlds for ten years, this daughter...can live." But how? Her mermaid mother, well-intentioned, cannot do much. The answers lie in a village named Grimli—with a kindly and very tall man named Mr. Walters, a satisfying villain with the improbable name of Frooty de Mare, a foster-family, and three eccentric sisters with a past to reckon with. Thora's a delightful heroine with a quick spin to her thoughts, and an idiosyncratic way with language that is at first a little dizzying but quickly acquires its own charm. In their own quirky way, the adult allies in the story try to help, but Thora—in the grand tradition of fictional, if not literal, orphandom—is her own best hope. Just as well, since Frooty's machinations need a strong countering force and no one else seems able to take him on. Illustrated by the author in a series of black and white line drawings that pepper the text, this story combines a whimsical concept with appealing characters. It even contains some genuinely funny tongue-in-cheek intertextual references to contemporary children's fiction—a wry subtext that young readers might miss, even while it reinforces a sort of lateral-thinking humor that they will appreciate. Despite marching, perfectly clueless, right into the lion's den, Thora manages to put the baddies in their place with flair, and all ends as we only wish it could in real life. 2005,HarperCollins, Ages 8 to 12.
—Uma Krishnaswami
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“The scribbly, black-and-white illustrations display an edgy, kinetic line reminiscent of Quentin Blake’s work.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"The scribbly, black-and-white illustrations display an edgy, kinetic line reminiscent of Quentin Blake’s work."
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“The scribbly, black-and-white illustrations display an edgy, kinetic line reminiscent of Quentin Blake’s work.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“The scribbly, black-and-white illustrations display an edgy, kinetic line reminiscent of Quentin Blake’s work.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060743789
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/26/2005
  • Pages: 256
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Gillian Johnson the creator of Thora: A Half-Mermaid Tale, grew up in Winnipeg, Canada. She now lives in England and Tasmania with her husband, writer Nicholas Shakespeare, and their two sons, Max and Benedict. Gillian has written and illustrated numerous books for children, including Roos in Shoes by Thomas Keneally.

Gillian Johnson the creator of Thora: A Half-Mermaid Tale, grew up in Winnipeg, Canada. She now lives in England and Tasmania with her husband, writer Nicholas Shakespeare, and their two sons, Max and Benedict. Gillian has written and illustrated numerous books for children, including Roos in Shoes by Thomas Keneally.

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Read an Excerpt

Thora

A Half-Mermaid Tale
By Gillian Johnson

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Gillian Johnson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060743794

Chapter One

It all started ten years ago on a fine summer evening when a very tall man strolled along the Grimli pier. His name was Mr. Walters and he was not just tall, but very tall. He was so tall he could have been the president of the Tall Club. But he wasn't the president of anything anymore. He was retired, and he was headed for the end of the pier, where he planned to sit on the red oil drum and smoke his last cigar of the evening.

He never made it.

With only a few steps to go, he heard a rather unusual cry. He stopped and scanned the harbor. Eventually, his eyes came to rest on the old houseboat with the for sale sign. The Loki.

He'd noticed it before, but had never paused to take a good look. What made him take notice now was not the rather odd construction of the boat, nor the peeling paint of its cabin or even the crooked way it sat in the water, but rather the loud noise coming out of it.

WAAAAAA! WAAAAAA! WAAAAAA!

He tiptoed over. The large main glass window was steamed up, and the curtains were drawn. Cupping his hand to his ear, he leaned his head against the front door and listened.

The crying was supernaturally loud.

It reminded him of all the worst things in life.

Dentist drills.

Cold showers.

Seasickness and creamed corn.

So why didn't he turn and run?

Mr. Walters had never much liked babies, but this was different. Though terrible, the sheer volume of the crying reminded him of the effort of Olympic champions in some of the great photo finishes of his day. There was something heroic -- noble even -- in its amplitude. It made him want to join.

He rapped on the cabin door. When nobody answered, he turned the metal door handle and gently let himself in.

Not once did it occur to him not to.

The room was dark and damp and smelled distinctly fishy. When his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he gasped. "Good gracious!"

Cut into the middle of the floor was a hole the size of an extra-large pepperoni pizza. The sea made a slurping sound as it splashed upward. There were puddles everywhere.

On the walls there were pictures of movie stars and posters advertising films. On the far side of the room stood a pile of dark furniture and a chest of drawers. The crying sound was coming from the opened bottom drawer. He rushed over.

WAAAAAA! WAAAAAA! WAAAAAA!

Tucked into a wad of wet, green seaweed was a shrieking baby.

His first thought was that the creature must be very cold, because its legs were quite purple.

He scooped it up. Immediately the noise stopped and the baby opened one green eye. There was a click and a whooosh, and then a thin but powerful jet of water sprayed up and knocked his hat clear off his head. "Ratbag!" he cried, stuffing the creature back into the drawer, where it resumed its crying, harder and louder than before.

It was at that moment that Mr. Walters noticed a hole on the top of the baby's bald head. It was no bigger than one of the foreign coins he tossed into wishing wells the world over.

And that was not all. The legs were scaly and the hands were most definitely webbed.

"Deary me," he whispered.

The baby kicked and thrashed.

WAAAAAAAA! WAAAAAA! WAAAAAA!

How could he get it to stop? Should he sing it a song? He couldn't hold a tune.

Change the diaper? He didn't know how.

Hang the baby from the ceiling by its toes? What if it started to leak from the hole in its head?

Suddenly the baby reached up and grabbed his hand.

Mr. Walters jumped back. Then he laughed. "I know what you need," he said. "Won't be a minute . . . you stay right where you are."

WAAAAAAAAA!

Continues...


Excerpted from Thora by Gillian Johnson Copyright © 2006 by Gillian Johnson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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