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About the Author

HELEN DUNMORE is a novelist, short story writer and poet. She has written twenty-two children's books, including Brother Brother, Sister Sister; The Lilac Tree; The Seal Cove; and the bestselling Ingo series. She has written nine adult books including A Spell of Winter, which won the 1996 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her poetry collections have won the Poetry Society's Alice Hunt Bartlett Prize and the Signal Poetry Award. Helen Dunmore was born in Yorkshire, England, and now lives in Bristol with her husband and children.


Gr 5-9-A family living on the coast of Cornwall gets caught up in the undersea kingdom of the Mer people. After their father mysteriously disappears, Sapphy and her brother, Conor, visit Ingo and find themselves yearning to return to the ocean world. Conor resists, but Sapphy has a stronger affinity with the watery kingdom. While she struggles with its temptation, she also clashes with her mother, who seems too ready to forget the children's father. These elements come together in an exciting climax in which the siblings risk traveling to Ingo to save the life of the human diver their mother is dating. Sapphy's present-tense narration brings readers right into her world. Through her eyes, they see the beauty of Ingo, the comfort of her earthbound home, and the confusing muddle of thoughts and emotions that her experiences inspire. The undersea world seems equal parts menacing and alluring, which builds suspense and keeps everything pleasingly unpredictable. Relationships are especially well drawn. Sapphy is dedicated to Conor, despite some jealousy; she loves her mother, though she's keenly aware of how different they are; and she is not sure how to feel about Faro, the charming, sometimes angry young Mer man who serves as her undersea guide. Strong character development combines with an engaging plot and magical elements to make this a fine choice for fantasy readers, who will look forward to the next installments in this planned trilogy.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Dunmore's (The Siege, for adults) richly imagined fantasy, her first for young adults, posits tension between two parallel worlds: one undersea, the other along the rocky Cornwall coast. Sapphire, 11, and her older brother, Conor, have grown up in a close-knit family, loving the tidal cove below their cottage. Their father, Mathew, a fisherman and photographer, adores the sea; on the other hand, their mother has, in her words, "good reason to fear" it. When Dad disappears, and part of his boat is found, the family holds a memorial service and moves painfully through grief. Even a year after his disappearance, Sapphy and Conor refuse to believe their father is dead, while their mother begins to move on, befriending a visiting diver. Mer children Faro and Elvira begin to court the siblings, introducing them to such marvels as breathing underwater and swimming with dolphins. Ingo, the undersea world about which their father sang, beckons overpoweringly, and Sapphy, who is drawn back there repeatedly, begins to understand the Mer language. A wise beekeeper, whom some suspect is a witch, seems to know Mathew's fate. She subtly intercedes as Sapphy vacillates, "cleft" between her Mer and Air identities, and also suggests that Ingo is "breaking its bounds," intruding into the Air world. Dunmore makes both settings riveting, and captures Sapphy's lonely struggle through the heroine's first-person narrative. Dualities skepticism and belief, collective memory and individual perception, the pull of Mer life versus Sapphy's family love persist to the tale's end and beyond. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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