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The Secret Mermaid: Book 3
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 loves helping the Shell-Keeper mermaids, until a grumpy sea urchin makes his home on her friend Delphi’s enchanted shell. He’ll only exchange the shell for some sparkly pirate treasure, and riches lie in a nearby shipwreck…but what other dangers are lurking there?
“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
Molly had been a mermaid twice before now, but she still wasn’t used to the peculiar melting sensation as her body transformed. Her legs in particular felt as if they were dissolving into nothing – it was rather alarming! But then, suddenly, she could feel the coolness of seawater against her skin and she opened her eyes eagerly. Yes! She was a mermaid again. Her legs had vanished, and now she had her very own shimmering silver tail flicking behind her!
“Hello, Molly,” came a voice from nearby. “I thought that was you!”
Molly turned to see Delphi, one of the other Shell-Keeper mermaids. Delphi had bobbed
auburn hair, green eyes and a sprinkling of freckles over her nose. She wore a jade-green top, and had a pale green flower tucked in her hair.
“Hello!” Molly cried joyfully and swam over towards her. Something felt different though. Why was it so hard to swim all of a sudden? Usually, as a mermaid, Molly could speed through the water very fast.
Delphi noticed Molly struggle and came to meet her halfway. “The current is really strong today, isn’t it?” she said. She hugged Molly in welcome. “There have been some terrible storms lately, too. Usually, my piece of the conch helps me protect sailors at sea – I can use its powers to guide their ships safely back to harbour. But without it, I haven’t been able to do anything, and there have almost been some dreadful shipwrecks.”
“Well, I can help you look for your shell,” Molly said at once. “I— ”
Before she could finish her sentence, though, a pod of dolphins had appeared, smiling as they dived down through the water towards the two mermaids.
“Ahh,” Delphi murmured to Molly. “Here come my little helpers. Or rather, they think they’re helping.”
The first dolphin to reach them made some excited whistling, snickering noises to Delphi, its eyes bright and alert. Molly couldn’t take her eyes off the beautiful creature. She could hardly believe she was so close to it!
“You think you’ve found the shell?” Delphi replied. “Okay, we’ll follow you. Come on, Molly, let’s see what they’ve got this time.”
She flicked her tail fin and surged away through the water. Molly gave her own tail a sharp wiggle and swam after her. She was surprised that Delphi didn’t seem more enthusiastic at the dolphin’s message. “What’s up?” she hissed to her as they followed the sleek, silvery dolphins.
Delphi gave a tired smile in reply. “I do love the dolphins – they’re so cheerful and bouncy and keen to help,” she said in a low voice, “but they’re a bit too keen to help, if you know what I mean. They’ve been in and out of the shipwrecks looking for my conch piece, and they keep thinking they’ve seen it, and coming to get me, when really it’s just another piece of human treasure that they’ve discovered.” She rolled her eyes comically. “What with them, and Princess Silva hanging around all the time asking if I’ve found the shell yet, I’ve hardly had a minute to myself.”
Molly bit her lip, hoping she would be more help than the dolphins and Princess Silva. Maybe Delphi didn’t even want her hanging around – maybe she was secretly wishing Molly hadn’t turned up at all!
Delphi caught the doubtful expression on Molly’s face and put a hand on her arm. “Oh – I didn’t mean I wanted to be on my own now!” she said quickly. “I heard how brilliant you were at helping Ella when she’d been thrown onto the sand by that scary killer whale. I’m really pleased you’re here to help me, too – truly, Molly!”
Molly smiled in relief. “Oh good,” she said. “I’m pleased to be here.”
They swam on, and Molly remembered Delphi’s earlier comment about Princess Silva, daughter of the Merqueen. Queen Luna was lovely, but there was something a bit odd about the princess, Molly thought privately. She always seemed to be hanging around in the background, listening and watching without saying very much. Maybe she was just a bit shy, though.
The dolphins had stopped before a huge rock on the seabed and were pointing their shiny noses at it, all making whistling noises at once.
“Okay, let’s have a look,” Delphi said in a good-humoured way. Molly could tell she didn’t really believe her shell would be there.
But then Delphi’s mouth fell open in surprise and her eyes lit up. “Oh! My conch! You really did find it!” she cried, and she threw her arms around the nearest dolphin, covering his head with happy kisses.
Molly swam over to the rock excitedly for a closer look. Sure enough, wedged into a crevice was Delphi’s piece of the conch! The shell’s creamy surface seemed to glow against the dark, barnacle-covered rock, and was half-hidden by a spiky round object that rested on top of it. Was the spiky thing some kind of plant? Molly wondered.
Delphi patted the other dolphins lovingly, then joined Molly in front of the rock. “At last!” she cried happily, reaching out a hand to move the spiky thing. “Oh, I’ve been so worried! And now—”
“Oi!” the spiky thing snapped in a bad-tempered way, making Molly jump back in alarm.“Get your hand away from me, or I’ll jab you with my spines!”
Molly stared at the spiky thing and then questioningly at Delphi. “What is that?” she whispered.
“It’s a sea urchin,” Delphi replied in a low voice. “A grumpy sea urchin at that!” She turned back to the creature. “But you’re on my shell,” she said to it politely. “Please would you move, so that I can get it?”
“No,” the sea urchin told her. “It’s mine now, I found it. Lovely and smooth it is, too, after that craggy old rock. Shouldn’t have been so careless with it, should you?”
“Oh please,” Molly put in. “It was stolen from her – she wasn’t being careless!”
The sea urchin’s red spines rippled in the current. They did look horribly sharp, Molly thought to herself. “I said no, and I mean no!” the sea urchin replied crossly.
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.
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.
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