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Emily Whitman The Turning Middle Grade Fantasy Novel Selkie Kid Literature Kid Lit Adventure Folklore

The call of the sea.

The danger of the island. The secret of a boy.

Aran is a selkie and lives on the open sea with his clan. But he has never quite belonged. He was born without a selkie skin, stuck in human form, never able to transform into a sleek, powerful seal the way his family does. And then Aran discovers that his clan has been keeping a secret from him. A secret that means Aran may never get his pelt. That he is a danger to the entire clan.

That maybe he doesn't even belong to the sea at all.

So Aran gets his first taste of life on land and all the wonders it holds: trees and birds' nests and cookies and, most surprising of all, friends.

Yet the land is dangerous, too. When the unimaginable happens, Aran will be forced to choose. Will he fight for his place on land, or listen to the call of the sea? 

Books for Kids

 Winner, Eloise Jarvis McGraw Award for Children's Literature, Oregon Book Awards

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Oregon Spirit Book Award Winner

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"This lore-rich and gripping story plunges the reader into a coming of age journey that, like the sea, is both beautiful and tumultuous. Whitman's imagery and lyrical text transport the reader to a place both known and unknown."  Oregon Book Award Judge Ben Clanton

"The true wonder of Emily Whitman's book is that, in her hands, this apparently simple story becomes completely involving and deeply compelling. She tells it in translucent, magnetic prose, and captures the thoughts and feeling of Aran so convincingly that the reader is swept through the waters of her story on a tide of compulsion. Our need to know what will happen to him is every bit as strong and desperate as his own need to understand who he is.... It is a work of rich imagination and superlative language, a very fine novel indeed."   — Magic Fiction Since Potter

“Whitman keeps the suspense high and delivers a satisfying conclusion. A wonderful selection for readers ready to dip their toes into variations on myths and legends without the mayhem and adult themes that often accompany the original tales.” — School Library Journal                                                

This story about a young half-selkie kept haunting me after I read it. So atmospheric and full of longing with themes on  identity and coming-of-age that are made even stronger by the writer's ability to impart the selkie's need for belonging in both worlds. Kids who struggle with identity would find much to love in this title. Reading Rumpus

"Whitman builds a beautiful slow burn with her evocative middle-grade debut. ...the many layers make for a satisfying read. A contemplative tale about the yearning to belong."  Booklist

“[A] perfect ending for young middle grade readers! . . . deeply relatable.”   — Charlotte’s Library 

Now available in paperback!

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