Sea Keepers: The Missing Manatee by Coral Ripley

The Blurb On The Back:

Dive into a mermaid adventure!

Sea Keepers

The Sea Keepers are searching for a magic pearl in the tropics.  But when evil Effluvia kidnaps a baby manatee, it’s up to the girls to rescue it.  Can Emily, Grace and Layla find the missing manatee before the rest of the herd leave it behind?

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order SEA KEEPERS – THE MISSING MANATEE by Coral Ripley from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Layla, Emily and Grace are at an outdoor theatre to watch Layla’s older sister Nadia act in a production of The Tempest when their shell bracelets start to glow – the Magic Clam has remembered the location of another Golden Pearl and Princess Marina needs their help to find it!

Once the girls have turned into mermaids they find themselves in the Straits of Florida where Marina gives them a strange riddle for where the Golden Pearl is hidden.  As the girls try to work it out, they save a baby manatee called Silva from being injured by a swamp boat and she introduces them to her grandmother Valeria and the rest of the herd, which is preparing to migrate.  But before the manatees can leave, the evil Effluvia kidnaps Silva and tells Marina and the girls that she will only let her go for a Golden Pearl.

Somehow Emily, Grace, Layla and Marina must solve the Magic Clam’s riddle and rescue Silva without giving Effluvia the Golden Pearl so that she can release the sirens and take over Atlantis!

The 9th book in Coral Ripley’s (a pseudonym for a group of writers) illustrated fantasy series for readers aged 6+ is a fun, ecologically aware read with a suitably wicked antagonist.  Although the illustrations are a little basic, this could have been an overly cutesy read but the emphasis on friendship and support and the way the main characters make fun of some of the traditional villain tropes keeps it feeling fresh.

I hadn’t read the preceding books in the SEA KEEPERS SERIES but you don’t need to as there is enough information in the book to understand the backstory.  I enjoyed the friendship between Layla, Emily and Grace and especially the way Layla’s supported by her friends in her ambition to become an actress and how the fact that she’s dyslexic shouldn’t stop her.

I’d picked this book up because I like manatees and I really enjoyed the way they’re depicted in the book as being curious and chatty but they also take their time.  The relationship between Silva and her grandmother is cute without being cutesy and the fact that Silva is kidnapped by Effluvia creates a real sense of peril.  I also liked the way that Valeria helps the girls to figure out the riddle and the girls figure out how to defeat Effluvia.  The fact that the girls make a tongue in cheek comment about Effluvia’s behaviour when she thinks she has beaten them was a neat, knowing touch that helps to prevent the story from tapping into saccharine territory.

The illustrations are a bit basic but I did like the diversity of the girls, which highlights that anyone can be a mermaid regardless of racial background.  There’s also a decent ecological message in the book without hammering it too heavily, notably by emphasising the damage caused by plastic to the ocean and also how boats in Florida injure the poor manatees.

All in all, this was an enjoyable read with a sound ecological message and I would read other books in this series on the strength of this.

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