Title: Forbidden Wings: A Mermaid’s Story
Author: M.C. Arvanitis
Year published: 2012
Publisher: Agate Beach Press
Number of pages: 51
Recommended age: 6+
Reviewed by: Renee and Danielle (Mother and Daughter)
Summary (from Amazon): Nadeea is shorter than the other Mermaids and finds life unbearable. She meets two fairies, Cassandra and Alex, and admires their beautiful wings. She wants wings for herself so she can escape from the teasing she receives from the other Mermaids. When Sir Cecil, the Snerg, promises to help her find wings she agrees to go on a long dangerous journey to Wyre, the home of the Damselflies. Sadie Squarette, a magic-making, bug-like poet, is their guide. They cross the Island of Egilssay where she meets Zasta, a Selkie, who becomes her best friend. There is danger in the island however. They must cross the land of the Trows where a mighty battle is going on between the Sea and Hill Trows. Trows not only kill each other, they kill anyone who crosses over their land. Sadie uses her unique magic to save them. Finally they reach the Island of Wyre where Nadeea hopes to get wings. She bravely faces Gwilon, the Goat Witch, and saves the queen of the Damselflies. When she learns that her Mer family has been captured by the dreaded Sea Lions and taken into slavery, she has to make a decision. Will she wait for her wings or leave with the Selkie Army to rescue her family?
1. What is the story about? This story is about a mermaid princess named Nadeea who wants wings after she meets two fairies. So she goes off on a quest to find some. She has to save her parents and the other merfolk from the evil sea lions.
2. What do you think of the cover and/or the pictures in the book? The pictures in the book were not that great. I think there should be better pictures.
3. Who are the main characters? Nadeea is the main character. She is a young mermaid. Sadie Squarette is another character but I didn’t understand what she was exactly.
4. What is your favorite part of the story? My favorite part of the story was when they were on the Island of the Damselflies – I wish I could be there because there were lots of pools of water.
6. What is your least favorite part of the story? I felt that the story happened all too fast and I didn’t understand who some of the characters were because they were not described well.
7. Who do you think would like this book? I liked this book and I think girls who are 9 years old and under would like it. It’s really for girls younger than me.
Daughter Rating: ★★★☆☆
My Thoughts: M.C. (Margaret) Arvanitis weaves a delightful tale filled with familiar fantastical creatures such as mermaids, fairies, and selkies as well as others unfamiliar to me such as the Hobbit-like Snergs and the mysterious Sadie Squarette, who can morph into various shapes and sizes. We meet, Princess Nadeea who is smaller than the other mermaids, after her parents as well as the rest of the adult Mers were captured and enslaved by the Sea Lions. After meeting two fairy children, Nadeea dreams of one day being endowed with wings. After, she meets a Snerg who promises to fulfill her dream, Nadeea and her fairy friends embark on a dangerous journey to the Land of the Damselflies. Nadeea must then make a difficult decision – wait for her wings or rescue her parents.
Ms. Arvanitis has a knack for story-telling. Forbidden Wings has all of the elements of a good story: interesting characters based in fantasy and folklore, an engaging plot with many unpredictable twists and turns, and important messages about courage, loyalty, belonging, and friendship. Nadeea is a mermaid Princess who is bullied by the bigger, stronger, more beautiful mer-children. I think many children could relate to her feelings of loneliness and sadness. She longs to look different – she wants to have wings. I think every tween and teen child wishes that they could look different. Nadeea finds the courage within herself to pursue her dreams all the while staying loyal to the friends she encounters. I think, overall, she is a character that young girls could relate to.
There are a variety of other characters that Nadeea befriends along the way including Cassandra and Alex, the two fairies, Sir Cecil the Snerg, Sadie the Squarette, Zasta the selkie, as well as more menacing creatures such as the Trows and the Sea Lions. This makes for a lively and interesting cast of characters. As you read along, you don’t know who Nadeea and her traveling companions will run into next.
The plot itself is captivating – the book is a page-turner because there is constant action from when we first Nadeea as an “orphaned” mer-child being mistreated by the other mer-children to the end where … well, I can’t tell you that part! Ms. Arvanitis weaves in important themes about bullying and the impact on the victim, about friendship and loyalty, and about finding the courage to persevere when chasing a dream.
While I enjoyed reading this book, I did have mixed feelings. The story is solid and, on many levels, I can sing its praises. On the other hand, I felt that there was not enough description of the context and the events to really get fully engaged with the story. The story read like a series of events: “A” happened, “B” happened, “C” happened, “D” happened, and so on. I would have liked to read more detailed and descriptive passages. I would classify this book as a short story – my daughter and I both flew through it, but we both felt it was ok only. I think there is so much potential for this book to be expanded into a middle grade novel and I urge the author to consider this because I do think it’s a good story.
My bottom line: I enjoyed reading the book and it has many good qualities. I would recommend this book as a read-aloud book for children who like to be read stories involving characters from fantasy and folklore such as mermaids, fairies, and selkies, and who are aged 5 to 9.
Grown-up Rating: ★★★½☆
*** Forbidden Wings by M.C. Arvanitis was provided to us free-of-charge by the author exchange for an honest review.***
About The Author (from author website):
M.C. (Margaret) Arvanitis is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers. Ms. Arvanitis’ occupation as a preK and early grades teacher gives her insight into the stories children like. Along with Forbidden Wings, she has also written an upper grade series, ‘Hank Of Twin Rivers’, about the struggle of a young boy on the Western Trails. You can find samples of her writing, preschool stories, and excerpts of her EC and Elementary chapter books on her author website: http://mcarvanitiswriter.blogspot.com/. Ms. Arvanitis also offers complete stories with activities an book suggestions to ECE teachers, child care providers (including parents and homeschoolers) for FREE.