The Mermaid in the Millpond by Lucy Strange and Pam Smy
|The Mermaid in the Millpond by Lucy Strange and Pam Smy
|Category: Confident Readers
|Reviewer: John Lloyd
|Summary: Ideal for those with dyslexia and other reading challenges, this has them reading of Dickensian workhouse times, with just a splash (tee hee) of magic.
|Date: January 2022
|Publisher: Barrington Stoke
|External links: Author's website
There is no mermaid in the millpond. That at least is what Bess is telling herself. Neither will there be a friend for her in amongst all the other kids, who have had their entire childhoods sold to the mill-owners by the London workhouse they used to call home. Bess knows there is no time for friendship in a hand-to-mouth, every man for himself kind of existence. But despite herself Bess does find a bit of a kindred spirit in the slight little Dot, and despite everything that life has taught her about betrayal and how befriending people only leads to harm, there might be a glimmer of companionship in the tired-out mill workers. But surely that doesn't mean there is any truth in the existence of the mermaid?
This evocative slice of historical drama comes to us from Barrington Stoke, the go-to publishing house for people needing fiction for people with dyslexia and other reading issues. Their experts have deemed this to have a reading age of eight, and content and interest enough for anyone of that age and above, and it is presented with all the considerations necessary for a special kind of reader. This allows, say, a twelve year old to have a book geared just for their level without appearing to any observers to be reading beneath them. Not that anyone would mistake writing of this quality as beneath anybody...
This is a brisk little thing, certainly not the full length of a novel by any estimation and for any audience, but that allows for several things. One, of course, is that the reluctant reader gets a title chalked off before they've hardly realised it. But two, it also demands a concision and economy, that means we see the plight of these children without any Dickensian wallowing. We see the lot they have to deal with without any over-egged historical detail, we sense the danger of the mill machines in most age-appropriate fashion, and we get a book that transports us from our world to an almost timeless zone of wonder in amongst the darkness, which kind of answers my earlier question for you, if you ever doubted the book's title.
For the educator, then, this opens many doors to discussing historical times quite alien to ours, workhouses, the Industrial Revolution, and much more. But for the target audience, gifted this rich little key into that world, there is a pair of strong female characters, and the rarefied bit of magic in their lives comes across most vividly into ours. Like so many Barrington Stoke books, it is certainly not just for a specialised market, but will be a success for many a reader.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
Enchanted Shell (The Secret Mermaid) by Sue Mongredien is not specifically for dyslexics, but the series has much to offer the reluctant reader. The Ghost Garden by Emma Carroll and Kaja Kajfez, likewise from Barrington Stoke, has much more in the way of historical realism, mind.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Mermaid in the Millpond by Lucy Strange and Pam Smy at Amazon.com.
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