Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits

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Overview

From Pitiable Nasmith's miserable existence in a seaside town whose inhabitants are more intertwined with the sea than most people know, to Tamia's surprising summons to be the apprentice to the Guardian who has the power to hold back the sea, each of the six stories illuminates a captivating world filled with adventure, romance, intrigue, and enchantment. Robin McKinley fans will recognize one of the worlds included-Damar, the setting of Newbery Medal-winner The Hero and the ...
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Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits

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Overview

From Pitiable Nasmith's miserable existence in a seaside town whose inhabitants are more intertwined with the sea than most people know, to Tamia's surprising summons to be the apprentice to the Guardian who has the power to hold back the sea, each of the six stories illuminates a captivating world filled with adventure, romance, intrigue, and enchantment. Robin McKinley fans will recognize one of the worlds included-Damar, the setting of Newbery Medal-winner The Hero and the Crown and Newbery Honor Book The Blue Sword.

Author Biography: Robin McKinley is the winner of the Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor.

Peter Dickinson is a two-time winner of both the Carnegie Medal and Whitbread Award and winner of the Guardian Award.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Each highly respected authors in their own right, husband and wife Dickinson (The Ropemaker) and McKinley (Spindle's End) collaborate for the first time on a collection of enchanting tales linked by an aquatic theme. Infused with selkie legends and Greek and Roman underworld myths, the tales possess a consistently compelling, rhythmic tone, despite the fact that the authors alternate in the tellings. Dickinson's opening "Mermaid Song" sets the tone for a tenuous relationship between those who dwell on sand and in sea; only the landsman who has listened to the stories passed down through generations can accord the sea its proper respect. McKinley's "The Sea-King's Son" builds on the traditional tale of the Sea-King's daughter who falls in love with a musician, but with a satisfying twist. Taken together, the installments also raise some thought-provoking issues. In "Mermaid Song," for instance, Pitiable Nasmith must lie in order to escape her grandfather's abusive home, while Hetta in "A Pool in the Desert" struggles with what constitutes truth. The workings of the Guardians' magic in McKinley's "Water Horse" remains mysterious, and Dickinson never entirely explains the gender-divided mythology in "Sea Serpent" but fans of myths won't mind filling in the gaps. These creative interpretations brim with suspenseful, chilling and wonderfully supernatural scenes, from Iril's daring plan to kill the murderous sea serpent to Hetta's literal leap of faith. Ages 12-up. (June)
VOYA
These six stories, three by McKinley and three by her husband, Dickinson, feature the elemental spirits that inhabit Earth's waters. In several stories, they interact with earthly humans, but not always. One notable story is Mermaid Song by Dickinson, in which an ancient family story has unintended results. In The Sea King's Son by McKinley, a girl falls in love with the title character. Also noteworthy is McKinley's A Pool in the Desert, in which a young woman leaves her earthly home and family to enter a fantasy world. Each tale is written painstakingly in a flowing style that complements the events and characters of the other stories. Teens who are familiar with the authors' other works might seek this collection; others might choose it for its fantasy elements. Adults will select it because of the authors' reputations and for the excellent writing and magical characters. All will enjoy it. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Putnam's, 272p,
— Rosemary Moran
From The Critics
Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson weave fanciful tales in their short story anthology Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits. This is a collection of six enchanting tales — three by each author - linked by an aquatic theme. The stories are filled with Greek and Roman underworld myths, and possess a near reverent tone, as the opening story, "Mermaid Song" sets the tone between those who dwell land and those who dwell on sea — only the landsman who has listened to stories passed down through generations can accord the sea its proper respect. The authors alternate stories in the text, but each brings his and her own seamless quality to the telling. In Dickinson's stories, characters are easy for readers to relate to, as in "Mermaid Song." Dickinson also makes the sea monster, Kraken, a creature to be pitied. Similarly, McKinley's stories make the reader wish to be in them. Her "The Sea-King's Son" will undoubtedly become a new fairy tale. The writing duo have created a book that challenges ideas about other worlds as well as about our own world. The stories explore the spirits of water, and those who live with it. McKinley and Dickinson push the reader's imagination to its limits while delighting it as well. 2002, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 266 pp., Ball
KLIATT
Using a lyrical writing style that reflects its subject matter, two leading fantasy writers provide six short stories (three by each author) about water's magic. They speak of mermaids, sea serpents, elemental water horses, deep-sea spirits, and time travel. Several stories feature YA protagonists who overcome immense odds. McKinley's tales tend to favor a feminist perspective and independence. Dickinson seems to focus on contrasting perspectives about mutual events. These stories each have a message, but it isn't delivered dogmatically. If anything, the tales have a fairytale tone. Perhaps because of their length, the tales are not complex and profound, but they are pleasant to read. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2002, Berkley, Ace, 266p., Farmer
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-Two generally brilliant writers alternate first-rate tales in this six-story collection. McKinley allows hearts' desires to be achieved in all three of her contributions: one young woman braves a curse and falls in love with "The Sea-King's Son"; another discovers her own subtle kind of magic in defeating a giant, wildly destructive "Water Horse." A third dreams of Damar, the setting of McKinley's Blue Sword (1982) and Hero and the Crown (1984, both Greenwillow), then finds a way to travel there, escaping through space and time from a soul-deadening existence. In Dickinson's tales, which are darker in tone, a "Mermaid Song" helps an abused child escape her violent father; a lame ferryman, caught in a struggle between old gods and new, battles an immense "Sea Serpent"; and while helping to save human lovers from drowning, a mer-princess draws the attention of an immortal, coldly alien "Kraken" from the deeps. The masterfully written stories all feature distinct, richly detailed casts and settings, are free of the woodenly formal language that plagues so much fantasy, and focus as strongly on action as on character. There's plenty here to excite, enthrall, and move even the pickiest readers.-John Peters, New York Public Library Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Veteran fantasists bring six new short stories to readers in a collection that explores aspects of water both benign and malignant. The subjects are quite varied: a young woman, abused by her grandfather, saves a water-girl and, in doing so, herself; a land-girl meets and falls in love with "The Sea-King's Son," in a sort of happy reversal of "The Little Mermaid"; a wily ferryman outsmarts a sea serpent and unseats the old goddesses; a young apprentice Guardian pressed into service far too early nevertheless saves the land from a rampaging Water-Horse; a rebellious mermaid-princess plumbs the depths of the sea's darkness in "Kraken"; and, in a story sure to please fans of McKinley's early works, a tired young woman from a modern Homeland finds her way (via her garden pond) to the desert of Damar's past. Dickinson's (Ropemaker, 2001, etc.) tales lean toward the dark, the violent, the malevolent; McKinley's (Spindle's End, 2000, etc.) are by and large gentler, emphasizing love, not conflict. Despite thematic differences, it is a remarkably consistent collection, tonally speaking, each tale slowly and completely developing its unique setting, plot, and characters with slow, stately language. This language, though, sometimes gets out of hand, particularly in McKinley's tales, where commas insert themselves freely into sentences that seem to go on and on, until readers who are not paying attention may find themselves at the end of a sentence of which they have forgotten the beginning. Readers who can stick with it will find themselves rewarded with watery riches, and will look forward hopefully to Earth, Air, and Fire. (Short stories. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142402443
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 10/21/2004
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 632,165
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 1180L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.81 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Robin McKinley has won various awards and citations for her writing, including the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown and a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword. Her other books include Sunshine; the New York Times bestseller Spindle's End; two novel-length retellings of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Beauty and Rose Daughter; and a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, The Outlaws of Sherwood. She lives with her husband, the English writer Peter Dickinson.

In 1927, Peter Dickinson was born in Africa, within earshot of Victoria Falls. When he was seven, his family moved to England, where he graduated from Eton and later Cambridge. After working on the editorial staff of the humor magazine Punch for seventeen years, Peter finally started on his career as a writer, which he knew he was meant for since he was five years old.

His first book was published in 1968, and since then he has written almost fifty novels, for adults and young readers. His children's books have won great acclaim here as well as in Great Britain, where he has received both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Award.

Peter lives in Hampshire, England, with his wife, Newbery Medalist Robin McKinley.

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Customer Reviews

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( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 19 of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2002

    A Lover of Robin McKinley's Books

    I love Robin McKinley. I loved her stories. There's one on Damar - and it's wonderful. Her stories are great, and they have that special style of writing that she has. And as for Peter Dickinson - his stories are ok. I loved Mermaid Song, though.

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