The titular mermaid must ace a spelling test to get back on her swim team and in doing so learns a lesson about inner and outer beauty.
Mermaid Cora is great at singing, swimming, and splashing—but not so much at spelling, a subject in which she earns “a great big FISH (minus the ish)” on her report card. To help boost her scores, her mother gives her a diary, telling her it has a spell on it to compel her to write. Illustrating her difficulties, numerous words are misspelled, crossed out, and corrected. Cora has just made the junior ranks of the most glamorous swim team—the Singing Sirens—only to get booted for her spelling grade. (How these undersea swim teams compete and what they do—aside from swimming and looking pretty—is never made clear.) Her mother negotiates on her behalf, arriving at an agreement that if Cora aces the next spelling test, she can keep her spot. In writing about her undersea adventures, Cora ends up using her spelling words and learning them. In the end, Cora uncovers the nasty sides of her beautiful teammates and rival, and she decides to change her values. Light-skinned Cora is depicted as chubby and cartoon-cute, while other mermaids (including her best friend, who appears darker-skinned on the cover) appear conventionally “beautiful.”
Generally amusing, if readers can look past the only mildly critiqued focus on beauty. (Fantasy. 6-8)