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The Secret Mermaid: Book 2
by Sue Mongredien
Far out in the ocean live the Shell-Keeper mermaids. While the rest of the world sleeps, one little girl joins them for some magical mermaid adventures. Molly can’t wait to return to the Undersea Kingdom as a secret mermaid. Swimming with dolphins and diving for treasure is so exciting! But first, Molly must help her mermaid friend Ella find her missing enchanted shell – before it falls into the Dark Queen’s evil clutches.
“If you have a child who is just mastering reading then one of the first authors to look to these days is Sue Mongredien.”
The Book Bag
Sue Mongredien read English at Leeds University. After graduating, Sue worked as an editor of children's books before leaving to travel around the world. She now lives in Brighton with her partner and three children and is a full-time writer. She has had over 60 books published.
Visit www.suemongredien.co.uk/ to find out more.
Crossing her fingers hopefully, Molly shut her eyes – and immediately felt as if she were falling through the air at great speed.
Something’s happening! she thought in delight, not daring to open her eyes. She could hear a bubbling sound in her ears, then felt as if her body was dissolving somehow. Then she could feel the cool water against her skin and knew she was back in the Undersea Kingdom once more.
She opened her eyes and looked down to where her legs usually were. They had vanished, and in their place flicked a beautiful, long mermaid tail, its scales sparkling a bright emerald green. On her top half, Molly was wearing a turquoise top, and her shell necklace was around her throat. Yes! She was a mermaid again! She turned a watery somersault, laughing in joy as the world spun before her. Then she paused and looked around. Where was she anyway?
It only took Molly a moment to recognize the pretty underwater courtyard garden that was part of the Merqueen’s palace. There was the pink scallop shell where Queen Luna had sat to explain to Molly that, as the secret mermaid, she was one of six special mermaids called Shell-Keepers. Each Shell-Keeper looked after a magical piece of conch shell – until Carlotta, the Dark Queen, had stolen every piece except Molly’s, that was. But then somehow, magically, the five captured shell pieces had escaped from the Dark Queen’s cave, and were now lost and scattered throughout the ocean. Molly had to help the other Shell-Keepers find them before Carlotta got to them first.
Just then, Molly heard a familiar voice nearby. “I’ve called you here because— Ahh, Molly! Welcome!”
The voice belonged to Queen Luna herself. She swam towards Molly, looking stately and beautiful, with her golden crown perched on her long chestnut hair, and a diamond glittering on a golden chain around her neck.
She was followed by Ella, the very first mermaid Molly had met, and they both came over to Molly and hugged her.
“I’m glad you’re here,” the Merqueen said. “As I was about to explain to Ella, I’ve just had word from some seals who think they’ve seen magical-looking sparkles in a coastal cave north of here. It may be nothing, of course, but we should look into it, in case it is one of the missing conch pieces. Ella, as protector of the coastline, you must investigate. Molly, you go too – but look after your conch carefully. Don’t let any of the Dark Queen’s servants near it!”
“Of course,” Molly replied, feeling her skin prickle at the thought.
“Coral, Delphi, Pearl and Shivana are still searching for their shells in different areas of the ocean,” the queen went on. “But the Dark Queen and her army are sure to be hunting for them too. There is no time to lose!”
Ella bobbed a curtsy to the Merqueen. “We’ll report back if we find anything,” she promised. Then she grabbed Molly’s hand. “Come on,” she said. “Let’s go!”
The two friends swam out of the garden. Molly loved the way she could surge through the water so swiftly with the smallest of flicks from her powerful tail fin. Her hair streamed out behind her, and she realized that her heart was thumping with excitement. She was off on another adventure in the Undersea Kingdom. Oh, it was good to be back!
Just as they were leaving the Merqueen’s courtyard, Molly caught sight of a shadowy figure at the edge of the garden and recognized the dark hair and shimmering purple cape of Princess Silva, the queen’s daughter. Molly was surprised to see her. How long had the princess been there in the shadows? she wondered. But before she could think any more about it, they were surging through the gleaming front doors of the palace, and Ella was speaking to her.
“My piece of the conch helps look after the coastline and tides, along with the magic of the moon,” she was saying. “I really hope that it’s my piece of shell in the coastal cave! Ever since the Dark Queen stole it from me, the tides have been out of control. They’re either too high, causing floods, or too low, leaving sea plants and creatures in danger of drying out.”
Molly remembered what her parents and gran had been saying earlier. “There have been floods near us, our neighbour said,” she told Ella as they swerved to avoid a shoal of tiny electric-blue fish. “And just as I was going to bed, my mum noticed the tide was really high.”
Ella looked unhappy at Molly’s words. “It’s even more important that we find my shell, then,” she replied. “Once it’s back with me, the tides will turn smoothly, and all will be well. But if the shell stays lost, or falls into the hands of Carlotta again...”
She didn’t finish her sentence, but she didn’t need to; her mournful shrug said it all. Then she squared her shoulders and Molly saw a flash of determination in her eyes. “Still,” she went on, “you never know, maybe the seals really have found my shell. And then I’ll be able to calm the tides straight away.”
Ella swam faster at the thought, and Molly had to push her strong tail extra-hard to keep up. They swam at great speed through the gates that marked the boundary of the Undersea Kingdom, and travelled further out to sea, passing a pod of frolicking dolphins, colourful coral reefs that heaved with bright fishes, and great forests of red and brown seaweed that swayed beneath them.
“Nearly there,” Ella said, and then pointed ahead. “Ahh – look, there they are.”
Molly peered through the water and saw a group of sleek seals, with wide eyes and long snouts, and mottled, silvery-grey bodies. She and Ella approached them, and Ella spoke to them in a language Molly didn’t understand.
The seals listened attentively, and then the largest seal replied to her in a curious barking speech, pointing with one of his flippers.
Ella nodded gratefully when he finished, and smiled. “Thank you,” she said, before waving goodbye.
“Which way do we go?” Molly asked when the seals had swum away. She was expecting Ella to lead her in the direction the seal had pointed, but to her surprise, Ella took her hand and pulled her straight up to the surface of the ocean.
A delicious series and one that is unapologetically girlie. The characters are enchanting and, like all Sue’s books, the attention to detail in her description is utterly perfect.
This second book in the Secret Mermaid series is perfectly pitched for the emerging reader with seventy six pages of text divided into six chapters. There's liberal use of illustrations by Maria Pearson which ensure that the pages are not too daunting – and that there are useful clues to the story if a little help is needed. The vocabulary is challenging but not too difficult for the newly confident reader. Don't worry if you haven't read the first book in the series, you'll quickly catch up with the story!
It's a good story too with adventure, intrigue and just a little danger as the girls are trapped by a killer whale. It's not a book which is likely to appeal to boys but any girl who enjoys magic and adventure is going to enjoy this book.
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