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Isadora Moon Under the Sea

Authored by Harriet Muncaster
Published by Oxford University Press

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A sleepover under the sea with mermaid friends – what is not to love? However, half-vampire, half-fairy Isadora Moon is apprehensive about being so far away from home. Her worries soon disappear as she becomes entangled in an underwater adventure with the ‘grumpy’ mermaid, Emerald. Isadora Moon Under the Sea is a story of new friendships and shared experiences.

Another adventure in the ‘Isadora Moon’ series written by best-selling author, Harriet Muncaster. When Isadora receives a letter inviting her to a birthday sleepover, she is excited and nervous about the whole experience, not least because she will be spending the night underwater! Her fairy mother and vampire father encourage her to attend, and she is soon enjoying the party games and is excited to be making her very own mermaid crown. Although most of the mermaids are friendly and kind, one mermaid, Emerald, seems a little aloof and is unkind to another mermaid, Delphina who happens to be Emerald’s half-sister. When Isadora finds herself sleeping next to Emerald, they form an unlikely bond and adventure ensues. Can Isadora help her new friend and find out what is troubling her?

This story will resonate with many young children who may be experiencing their first sleepover. The way in which the narrative unfolds seeks to reassure the reader and allay any fears.  With the right friends and a sprinkling of magic, Isadora conquers her worries. The combination of the everyday with the fantastical is perfect for readers who are starting on their own independent reading journeys. The black and pink illustrations perfectly complement the text and allow the reader to get to know these multi-faceted characters. The rich description of the underwater mermaid town with its ‘giant twirly pointed shell’ roofs and the ‘beautiful shimmery pearls’, sits well alongside the exquisitely drawn double-page spread reveal. Themes of friendship, acceptance, and courage are central to the narrative but there is also the underlying exploration of how blended and diverse families fit together. Not only does Isadora come to accept Emerald as her friend, but Emerald begins to appreciate and accept members of her extended family.

Isadora Moon Under the Sea  is a feel-good story is ideal for younger readers and with the many other books in this series (as well as various spin-offs) will provide hours of reading for those developing their confidence and stamina. Values such as acceptance, empathy, and kindness are explored in an accessible and entertaining way and will certainly capture young readers’ hearts. The inclusion of the usual craft activities and quizzes at the back of the book serves only to heighten the appeal to newly independent readers.

Sharing in the classroom or at home, this book, and indeed the series, will provide children with just the right mix of magic, adventure, and excitement to keep them coming back for more.

Shortlisted for The Week Junior Book Awards: Younger Fiction category 2023.