Columbine: The short but haunting and elegaic book will charm all ages.

Capri Beach Club is deserted one baking August except for 12-year-old best friends Hailey and Claire, and Raymond, the student who runs the snack bar. A fierce storm swamps the swimming pool and leaves behind a mermaid, Aquamarine. Hailey sees her huddling in a corner when she takes a swim in the murky pool, and sprinkles some marinated herring in the pool to tempt her to the surface. Aquamarine takes exception to being stared at, and is rather rude to the girls. However, she needs their help as she has fallen in love with Raymond, the first human boy she has ever seen – it is a bit of a weakness with mermaids…

“Her voice was as cool and fresh as bubbles rising from the ocean. She was as beautiful as a pearl, with a faint turquoise tinge to her skin and eyes so blue they were the exact same colour as the deepest sea.” She has silvery hair and tail, and slight webbing between her fingers.

The girls tell her she must go back to the ocean as the pool is due to be drained, but “they couldn’t know that a mermaid in love is more irrational than a jellyfish and more stubborn than a barnacle.”

The girls manage to arrange a date for her with Raymond, pretending she is a cousin of theirs, and find a wheelchair and a dress for her so that she can disguise her mermaidness. After that, Aquamarine promises, she will leave. Raymond is immediately enchanted by her, and Aquamarine gives him a shell, saying he need only speak her name into it and she will hear. He sees her next day and realises what she is: “Raymond’s eyes shone even brighter when he looked at her.”

But no mermaid can stay long out of the sea and Aquamarine comes close to fading away before the girls carry her back to the ocean.

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