Seal Girl by Magda Knight

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Seal Girl by Magda Knight
Publisher: Buzz Books USA
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Length: Short Story (26 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Ondine is the new girl at school, and with her flaming red hair, Irish accent and deformed hands, she’s used to being the odd girl out. She tells herself that she simply doesn’t care. But like the mythical selkies who swim in the cold Atlantic, Ondine swims to championships in high school pools, where she feels free. She chooses to be a free spirit, but when someone close starts to play dirty, it seems she runs out of choices …

Seal Girl is another contemporary take on a classical myth. Meet more brave teens tackling real-life issues in the entire Mythology High series.

Ondine has moved to a new school and is finding it difficult to fit in. She has type IV syndactyly which fuses her fingers. The other pupils call her Flipper and make fun of her, but her swimming excellence gives her solace as she ploughs her way through the pool each day.

Some of the boys and girls seem friendly but others only pretend to be and then tease her mercilessly. Her swimsuit is unusual, but it belonged to her mother and reminds her of sealskin. When she wears it in the pool she feels like a magic creature of the sea.

Ondine learns some of her fellow pupils are not nasty, although sometimes she misunderstands their actions. She must learn to cope with a world where she is considered a freak.

Although short, this is a story of how a girl copes with being different at school, and being the odd one out in a society where it’s important to fit in. Staying aloof brings unhappiness, but a tentative offer of friendship could end in disaster. As with many new pupils in an already established hierarchy, difficulties spring not only from her difference but also from being new. I was interested to see how Ondine coped with these problems and think the author handled the situation very well.

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