There is an art to writing series for independent readers transitioning to longer chapter books. Series like The Magic Treehouse and Geronimo Stilton come to mind for many elementary school readers today when considering series like this. When I was young, I devoured the Cam Jansen books and loved getting to jump quickly from one to the next.
I was fortunate to come across the A Mermaid in Middle Grade series by A.M. Luzzader in my reviewing work for Reedsy. By the time I found this series, the third book was being released. Whenever I review books that come later in a series, I make a point to read and review the preceding books in the series to make sure I have a firm understanding of the story and how the newer addition fits in. So, in that vein, I read books one and two of the A Mermaid in Middle Grade series before reviewing book three.
Book One, The Talisman of Lostland, introduces readers to Brynn Finley, her friends, and her story as she makes the sometimes uncomfortable transition to middle school. Brynn has a strong family dynamic, good friends, and is learning about the importance of telling the truth in this story. You can find my review of book one here, if you’d like to read more.
Book Two, The Far-Finding Ring, continues Brynn’s story and causes her to team up with a new friend, Will Beach, in order to prove her innocence in an unfortunate mix-up with her best friend Jade’s mother. Adventures abound, and Brynn learns more about independence and learning to trust herself as she gets older. You can read my full review here, if you wish.
Book Three, Voices of Harmony, focuses even more on the concept of friendship and jealousy as a new girl moves into their town and Brynn feels that her relationship with Jade is being threatened. My full review can be found here.
In book four, The Deep Sea Scroll, the focus is primarily on Brynn and her beloved dancing career. She becomes driven to win the solo prize at the annual competition again this year, even as Coral Jetty has been practicing more and is just as talented. Overwhelmed by her personal goals, Brynn fails to notice the destruction that is occurring in her wake. When Phaedra, the sea witch, gets up to some of her old tricks, Brynn has some important and challenging decisions to make. Please see my full review here.
Book five is my favorite book so far in this series! Brynn makes a pretty enormous mistake a few weeks before the end of the school year when a dagon becomes her substitute math teacher. Embarrassing and deep-seated prejudice color Brynn’s actions, and when she realizes the error of her ways, it is too late to stop a train she has set in motion. Swallowing her pride, she must atone for her behavior and fix the situation as best she can. This story shares an important message of accepting others who are different even when stereotypes prevail in a person’s mind. Please see my full review here.
Book six is the conclusion of this fun and memorable series, and it is a beautiful finale to Brynn Finley’s story. This is the epic sequence that has been hinted at throughout the series as Phaedra’s power and Brynn’s abilities are simultaneously increasing. A continuation of the messages of conservation, friendship, and learning from one’s mistakes, this engaging book will have readers turning pages quickly from beginning to end. There’s even a nod to Cthulhu in this book for adults who might be reading along with their children. I highly recommend this series to middle grade readers who are transitioning to longer chapter books! Please see my full review here.
Series like A Mermaid in Middle Grade are especially accessible to newly independent readers because the world-building inherent to any story is truncated. Once readers know what to expect, each subsequent book is predictable and formulaic, teaching important lessons within a familiar framework.
An additional feature of this series is that A.M. Luzzader includes continuation activities on her website! This is an especially enjoyable element for families, teachers, and readers wishing to continue Brynn’s adventures beyond the books themselves.
Readers with an affinity for merpeople, friends, family, lighthearted humor, and adventure will love these stories.
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