Ostertag, Molly Knox. The Girl from the Sea. Graphix / Scholastic, 2021. 978-1-338-54058-1. 256 p. $24.99. Grades 7-10.
Morgan Kwon likes to keep her life tucked neatly into boxes: family, school, and friends. She also has a secret box, full of her plans for the future: moving to a city, going to college, and coming out. One night, seeking refuge on the cliffs of her family’s tiny island home, Morgan falls into the ocean. Just as the contents of her boxes seem to intermingle and slip away, she is rescued by a girl with large, expressive eyes. Believing she’s experiencing a near-death hallucination, Morgan decides it might as well be a romantic one and she kisses Keltie in the moonlight. The next morning, Keltie reappears. She’s a selkie, and a kiss from her true love has allowed her to transform from a seal into a human. Morgan requires some convincing, though she’s undeniably charmed by her freckle-faced new girlfriend. Meanwhile, Keltie is frustrated by Morgan’s unwillingness to reveal her true self to her family and friends. An environmental threat adds urgency and drama to this magical, fantastic first love story. The beautifully sunny artwork perfectly captures a fleeting but unforgettable season.
THOUGHTS: The Girl from the Sea, the latest graphic novel from Molly Knox Ostertag (author of the Witch Boy trilogy), is enjoyable on so many levels: as a queer romance, a story of transformation, and a version of selkie lore. The full-cast audiobook production, complete with scene-setting sound effects, complements and illuminates the source material.
Graphic Novel Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD
Yamasaki, Katie, and Ian Lendler. Everything Naomi Loved. Norton Young Readers, 2020. 978-1-324-00491-2. Unpaged. $18.95. Grades K-2.
Naomi loves 11th Street, the place where she calls home. It has everything she and her family needs, including Mister Ray’s Automotive, pizza by the slice, a laundromat, her best friend (Ada), and more. One by one, however, 11th Street begins to change. They build a fancy building where her favorite tree once stood, and Ada moves away when they tear her family’s building down. Mister Ray explains to Naomi that things change, but they can keep the things they love with them by painting them into a mural. Mister Ray paints a beautiful tree, and he helps Naomi paint Ada underneath it. Eventually, Naomi’s family also moves out of their 11th Street home, but thanks to Mister Ray, she is able to take her memories with her. This is a beautifully written story about carrying memories we hold dear with us throughout the changing seasons of life.
THOUGHTS: This would be an excellent book to hand to a young reader whose family plans to move away in the near future. Perhaps readers, after finishing the story, could paint a portrait of all the things they hold dear, which they could take with them wherever they go. The book would pair well with other titles set in the city, such as Sydney Smith’s Small in the City (2019) or Marcie Colleen’s The Bear’s Garden (2020). Together, these titles would provide a comprehensive portrait of life in a constantly moving, ever changing city. Overall, this is a touching story with an important message about embracing positive memories when things change.
Picture Book Julie Ritter, PSLA Member