________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 4. . . .September 27, 2013


Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings.

Hélène Boudreau.
Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2010.
224 pp., trade pbk., $7.99.
ISBN 978-1-4022-4412-4.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4



I swung my legs (my legs!) over to the side of the bed and braced a hand on the headboard to stand. My whole body shook as my feet met the floor, filling me with worry. Could I actually walk?

“Do you need help?” Dad asked.

“Yes,” I whispered, barely finding my voice. I leaned heavily against him, my legs still stinging from the transformation.

Dad draped the afghan over my shoulders and helped me as I hobbled to the bathroom. “Thank goodness you’re back to normal.” His voice was heavy with relief.

I managed a smile before shutting the door of the bathroom.

Normal. I braced my hands against the vanity and stared at my reflection in the mirror.

I had a feeling there was no way I would ever feel normal again.


There are mermaids living in the town of Port Toulouse. Some are free to walk on their legs; others are being held captive under the water. After 13-year-old Jade finds out she can turn into a mermaid when she’s exposed to salty water, she sets out to learn the truth behind her mother’s yearlong disappearance. When mother and daughter reunite (as mermaids), Jade learns her mother’s life is in danger. Jade shows courage when she frees her mom from the Freshies (criminal Merpeople), and when she battles exhaustion and discovery to bring her mom to the open sea.

     Once out of danger, they plan for their family’s future and help Serena, a young mermaid, experience freedom for the first time. When Jade is underwater with her mother, the story is dramatic and imaginative. Readers learn the mermaids have a council and secrets and that it’s painful when they transform. When Jade is with her friends and her father, the writing becomes humorous and real-to-life. Girls will laugh when they read about the embarrassment Jade’s dad causes her when she starts her period and at the way she keeps “bumping” into Luke, her future boyfriend. I enjoyed this first book of four from Boudreau’s mermaid series because it has admirable characters (adults and teens) and many surprises at the end. I would recommend this book to girls who like to believe in the possibility of mermaids, or who enjoy a sweet love story.


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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