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.
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Jewell Parker Rhodes is the author of Ninth Ward, a Coretta Scott King honor book, and Sugar, winner of the Jane Adams Peace Association book award. She has also written many award-winning books for adults. Jewell lives with her family in Arizona.
Gr 3–6—Maddy lives with her family in New Orleans. At almost 10, she is the youngest of five girls, and this summer it will be her turn to stay with her grandmother in the bayou. Apprehensive about the visit—her sisters say Grandmère is a witch, whose house has no electricity or indoor plumbing—Maddy is also excited to discover Bon Temps. Soon, Grandmère teaches Maddy about healing herbs and their family history. When Maddy finds that she can call fireflies and see mermaids, Grandmère tells her the story of Mami Wata, the water spirit who accompanied their slave ancestors from Africa. Maddy soon comes to love the wetlands and the residents of Bon Temps, human and otherwise. So when the Gulf oil spill threatens the town, it is Maddy who must use her magic to save her new home. Some sensitive subject matter may be disturbing to younger readers—Maddy's friend has an alcoholic father who inadvertently hurts him and then later dies in the explosion. Maddy is a brave and hopeful heroine, and the descriptions of the bayou are almost as magical as her legacy. VERDICT Hand this to middle grade readers who enjoy family stories, history, and a dose of fanciful magic.—Laurie Slagenwhite Walters, Brighton District Library, Brighton, MI
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