Format Read: eGalley
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Challenges: May 2015 Clean Sweep ARC Challenge | NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | OmniLit* | Barnes & Noble |
* affiliate links; the blog receives a small commission from purchases made through these links.
Blurb from goodreads:
If only Maddy sees the mermaid, can it be real?
It's Maddy's turn to have a bayou summer. At first she misses life back home in the city, but soon she grows to love everything about her new surroundings -- the glimmering fireflies, the glorious landscape, and something else, deep within the water, that only Maddy sees. Could it be a mermaid? As her grandmother shares wisdom about sayings and signs, Maddy realizes she may be only the sibling to carry on her family's magical legacy. And when a disastrous oil leak threatens the bayou, she knows she may also be the only one who can help. Does she have what it takes to be a hero?
A coming-of-age tale rich with folk magic, set in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, Bayou Magic celebrates hope, friendship, and family, and captures the wonder of life in the Deep South.
I read about this book in an issue of School Library Journal and immediately went to NetGalley to request it then to up my odds I also entered to win an eGalley of it. Yep, I wanted this book. :D I liked what the author, Rhodes, had to say in the article, and the mix of fantasy and folklore plus it featured a heroine who wasn't your basic white middle-class American seen so often in children's books and that includes the books that I review. And look at that cover, it's so joyful. Stacking the odds paid off as I was approved and I won an eGalley. :D
So, after all that hype, hype which I usually run from, was the book All That? Well, it's not one I'll likely read again but it kept me reading. I was about halfway or so through the book before I realized that not a whole lot had actually happened yet. "Bayou Magic" very much a character driven story though near the end the action picks up and drives the remainder of the story. I was engaged, curious, and involved. I wanted to know if Maddy and her grandmother truly had magic, were there really mermaids in the Louisiana bayou and I loved that I learned, quite a bit actually, including the fact that mermaid stories are much more global than I ever realized. Rhodes, just like Maddy's grandmere, lays a foundation, building the story bit by bit, working up to the final lessons and Maddy's test. By the time the action begins, we pretty much know what's going to happen but how it gets resolved and how Maddy rises to the challenge are worth the read, they're the pay off.
The messages in the book - family, friendship, hope, faith, the perils of pride, and stewardship of the earth - are not subtle and any pretense of subtly is thrown out the window towards the end of the story. While I agree with the messages, I wish Rhodes had been less overt and let readers come to their own conclusions. Still, the story is one worth reading.
Tweens and young teens will be able to relate to Maddy's insecurities, her seemingly contradictory desires to be both special and just a regular girl. She gains confidence during her summer with her grandmere and discovers that she can make a difference. Her friendship with local boy Bear enriches her summer and teaches her a valuable lesson, as well as her grandmere too. What child hasn't wished they could teach a grownup something? Maddy was shy, smart, courageous, compassionate, and eager to learn, eager to find the magic around her.
"Bayou Magic" wasn't quite magical for me and the magic in the story is mostly subtle but it's a delightful story for children and adults alike.
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There were several good quotes so rather than choose one I;'m sharing several.
In this one, Maddy's grandmere is singing a lullaby and Maddy translates it into English:
Something like: "Sleep, little one. A crab will eat you if you don't." A bogeyman lullaby. Why do grown-ups like to scare kids to sleep?
Why do grown-ups do that? SMH
In New Orleans, lots I didn't know. Wasn't much I needed to know.
Eat. Sleep. Go to school. Pay attention to traffic lights, rules. Don't irritate my sisters. Get hugs and kisses from Ma and Pa.
Maybe the whole world is one big puzzle, and I just didn't know it. I only know in the bayou, my feelings are stronger. Sensitive.
I feel-know-something's wrong and Grandmere's not telling.
This last one is so true.
In real life, it's hard to be a hero. Bad things happen and you can't fix everything yourself. You need good friends and hope.