CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 7. . . .October 17, 2014
When a parent forbids a child from doing something, you know exactly what the first thing that child is going to do! Kira is a 12-year-old girl leading a normal and humdrum life, or so she believes. For as long as she has known, her adoptive parents have banned her from ever entering the ocean, a challenging rule for a curious girl like Kira not to break considering her family lives beside the sea! The reason for her parents’ caution is revealed to Kira as she finds herself on a path to self-discovery.
Author Orysia Dawydiak has created a charming undersea fantasy which has in store for her young readers both mystery and magic. She imaginatively weaves into her story the myths and legends of the various enchanting peoples of the sea. Dawydiak’s plot is linear and uncomplicated, a perfect fit for a younger audience. The pace of the book is good with action evenly spread across the chapters.
Visually speaking, the cover design is intriguing, peaceful, and beautiful. However, I feel that the cover design undermines the very title of the book, Kira’s Secret. After looking at the cover, Kira’s “secret” was no longer a secret, and I hadn’t even opened the book yet. This oversight made the five chapters until Kira, herself, discovers this “secret” a bit tedious.
Dawydiak establishes the character of Kira as a 12-year-old middle schooler, but Kira doesn’t feel like a real 12-year-old to me. The simplistic way in which Kira accepts her new fate without question and without doubt leaves me with the impression of a character written for a younger audience, an audience who would also accept such a transformation without question. Typically, self-identity is a major conflict in middle school fiction. In Dawydiak’s book, Kira is curious about her origins and can be upset about her situation, but she does not have any reservations about accepting her newfound abilities and family history. It feels like Kira is missing the essential “middle schooler angst”. In addition, Kira’s interests feel somewhat juvenile for her age. Often as I read, I would find myself imagining Kira to be a younger character because of the way she thought and spoke. Ultimately, it is the plot that drives this story, not Kira’s internal conflict of “Who am I?” Therefore, this leads me to recommend that this story is suited to a younger child audience who would appreciate this naïve, plot-driven adventure.
Overall, the language of the book is simple and suitable for a younger audience. Only near the end does a more “middle school aged” (and completely unnecessary) word come into play (i.e. “skank”). I found that this word unexpectedly sexualizes Kira’s character when this tone had not been present at all throughout the book. Perhaps, this word alone is the reason why this book has been aimed at an older middle school audience in the market.
On the whole, given the nature of the topic, the simple plot line, the uncomplicated characters, and the basic word choices, I would recommend this book to a younger reading audience. Orysia Dawydiak’s deep-sea adventure is a fun read, and it is about a topic that many young children do and will daydream about.
Dorothea Wilson-Scorgie is a Humanities teacher at a middle school in Victoria, BC. She has completed her MA degree in Children’s Literature recently at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.