Title: Mertales: The Best Friend Promise
Author: Rebecca Timmis
Publisher: Albert Street Books/Allen and Unwin
Published: 2nd July 2021
Synopsis: A sea-sational new series, packed with mermagic and flipperific adventure.
Today is Pearl’s ninth birthday, and she is planning a sea-sational day with her best friends. But when Pearl takes a shortcut on the way to merschool and sees a shooting star fall into the ocean, things begin to drift off course…
Suddenly, her mermaid tail begins to shimmer and sparkle. What could it mean? Well for a start, Pearl discovers she can now talk to animals, which comes in very handy when one of her friends is cornered by a hungry reef dragon!
It’s time for a mermazing adventure in Cockleshell Cove!
Mermaids are lots of fun, and there seems to be this awesome trend of fun mermaid stories, and each one is unique and different. In this new series by Rebecca Timmis, the four mermaids – Pearl, Coral, Sandy, and Shell – who are a diverse group of friends, from appearance to their interests and personalities. At the start of the story, Pearl is on her way to school on her birthday when a shooting star falls into the sea. When she shows her friends, Coral and shell, they become aware of Sandy listening in, and who longs to tell them the truth about the shooting star, yet whose presence everywhere Pearl and her friends go.
Yet as the story goes on, Pearl discovers she can talk to and understand animals, so when one friend is cornered by a reef dragon – can Pearl save her friend and get home in time for her fintastic party?
The first in an engaging, diverse and fun new series for six- to nine-year-old readers is the perfect next step on the independent reading journey, as it explores themes of friendship as it expands upon the literacy and understanding of language we use to read books throughout our lives.
Using magic, combined with a delightful play on language, Rebecca Timmis has created a world that we can all imagine ourselves in, and that evokes a sense of whimsy and wonder that will engage readers young and old. I love stories like this about friendship and the role sharing, and making friends plays in our lives as adults and children, and what we can do to help people. The way Pearl tries her best to be nice to Sandy is delightful, but there is also a sense that she is unsure about her as well. we all experience this as adults and kids, not knowing what someone is like all the time. It shows that judging someone on what we assume they are doing or like will never work, and we should get to know them first where possible.
It also shows that there are things that create bonds between us that create special bonds that allow us to learn and grow in a world that can be confusing and turbulent at times. What I loved was the way this book takes readers away from the uncertainty of the post-pandemic world and the constant up and down of lockdowns and restrictions in varying degrees, and it is worlds like this that let us escape this reality and experience something beautiful and fun.
This is the first in a series of four, and I think it will be one that will gain lots of popularity and fans and be thoroughly enjoyed by its target audience and could even be used in schools to help build on reading confidence and literacy. I am looking forward to seeing where this series goes and how the characters develop across the series.