This book is written in the currently popular style of first person journal entries. Mary Margaret tells the reader she is a fourth grader obsessed with mermaids who is going on a cruise to Greece with her grandmother. Mary Margaret accompanies her grandma because her grandpa has recently died, and someone must use his ticket so Grandma will not have to travel alone. Later, the reader is told the purpose of the trip: to scatter grandpa's ashes at sea. This plotline seems pretty heavy in contrast with the subplot of mermaid mania and Mary Margaret's simple language. Her journal entries are quite childlike in tone, yet Mary Margaret is able to be a steady support to her grandma, even putting her own feelings aside so as not to upset her grandmother. The contrast of these light and heavy plotlines is occasionally distracting rather than complementary. However, some strengths of the book are Mary Margaret's own "Seven Wonders of the World" lists, where she writes out the things she wonders about; her latitude and longitude report at the end of the journal, a good teaching point; and a related website where other mermaid fans can participate in activities. 2004, Bloomsbury Publishing, Ages 7 to 10.
Gr 3-5-Mary Margaret, 11, longs to be a mermaid so much so that when she leaves for a cruise of the Greek Islands with her grandmother after her grandfather's death, she steals her sister's bikini top for a mermaid costume and then worries about her sister's reaction. She worries, too, about her grandmother, who is quiet and despondent for most of the trip. Fortunately, there are plenty of other things, both on and off the ship, to occupy her attention. She wonders if she'll ever get the chance to meet Miss Victoria, the glamorous singer who performs every evening. There are the museums and sights that await her whenever the ship docks. Then, she is asked to be a mermaid flower girl in Miss Victoria's beach wedding, and she is ecstatic. Written in diary format, this novel is reminiscent of Carol Weston's "Melanie Martin" series (Knopf), but for a younger audience. Mary Margaret is an appealing character with an authentic voice and believable concerns and interests. Her grief over her grandfather's death and her concern about her grandmother add tenderness and emotional depth to the novel, while her obsession with mermaids (which has apparently earned the disapproval of her Catholic school teachers) lightens the mood. Overall, this is an entertaining travel story.-Ashley Larsen, Woodside Library, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Mary Margaret is convinced she's a mermaid, or, at the very least, that she can become one. Her grandfather, the only caring male in her life, has recently died, and she is taking her grandfather's place, accompanying her grandmother on a senior citizen's cruise through the Greek islands. Armed with glittery pens and a new journal, she writes of her experiences with some eccentric fellow travelers, her concern for her grandmother, her own grief, her impressions of the various ports of call, her very own seven wonders of the world, and, of course, the mermaid issue. Mary Margaret is an absolutely delightful fourth-grader, who is at once childlike and alarmingly precocious. Hazen has written a charming account of a girl's voyage that includes not only the latitude and longitude but the discovery of some of the meaning of life, love, and family. A winner. (Fiction. 7-11)