Reviewed by Molly Martin
Jesse is sitting on a sand dune imagining merfolk and waiting for the ocean fairies who live in nests in the foreshore. No one but Jesse knows about the little fairy penguins. Soon Roger the leader of the fairy penguins and his friends appear. These are not just any old fairy penguins; these penguins can speak every language on earth and when they are near Jesse can understand the language of birds and others. The penguins tell Jesse of a treasure ship with merfolk living in it not far out in the ocean. They help her travel out to the ship by ‘penguin power.’ When Vegemite accidentally stabs Jesse’s dingy with a dagger he finds in the ship the leader of the merfolk comes to help Jesse to shore. The Selkie is the ruler of the sea; he controls storms and waves. The Selkie promises Jesse a wish. Jesse is completely under his spell, and yearns to see the beautiful creature again.
Jesse buys a yacht with a coin Coral found on the treasure ship and now she and her penguin friends can travel out on the sea whenever they like.
Jesse meets the Selkie, a beautiful sea princess, Raindown the seal leader and Manomam, a seal who is caught in a nylon fishing line. She and the fairy penguins travel in a bubble to the undersea city, go to the island where the merfolk shed their tails and listen to wind harps in the trees. While on the island Jesse learns something special about the Selkie and the Sea Wizard.
Australian writer Peterson has crafted an especially charming tale of magic, love and kindness in her book Ocean Fairies. Amply composed characters move against a lavishly executed tapestry of intonation, seascape, and settings in this delightful narrative of a solitary young girl and her endeavor to overcome misfortune in her life. The characters are appealing and well-developed, especially the diversified dispositions of the penguin fairies. Coral likes to sit in Jesse’s lap, Vegemite pines for tuna sandwiches. Timothy is helpful. Roger is the shrewd, sensible leader. Zestful action, first class, energetic dialogue, and appealing scenarios are all included in this wonderfully directed tale.
Peterson deftly captures the imagination of the reader from the opening lines as we meet Jesse sitting in the dunes and holds interest tight through this gripping tale to the last paragraph as Rujarn, the merfolk, fairy penguins and Jessee all join in dance. With a keen eye for detail Peterson has captured the essence of the sea and those who may live in it.
With it’s beautiful cover and lovely inner illustrations, splendid storyline and easy reading style Ocean Fairies is a special delight sure to bring pleasure to youngsters in the target audience. This is a charming book for classroom use, free reading time, the home library or for an older sister to read to younger sibling.
US kids will find the small ‘Australian’ differences of language to be particularly charming I believe.
Enchanting read. I found each of the little fairy penguins especially appealing. Happy to recommend.
Ocean Fairies, by Wendy Peterson