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Ocean Magic in a Compelling Story of the Importance of Family Ties for Fans of Melissa Sarno

Updated on August 19, 2019
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Cindy Hewitt is a retired teacher with a passion for children's literature. Read-aloud stories add quality to a child's life experiences.

Compelling Story of Family Ties for the YA Audience

Compelling story of a young girl and her love for the ocean.  The ocean's dangerous riptide brings new secrets about the past.
Compelling story of a young girl and her love for the ocean. The ocean's dangerous riptide brings new secrets about the past. | Source

Ocean Secrets and the Importance of Family Ties

Melissa Sarno's A Swirl of Ocean is a compelling read for young readers of the ages 8-12 who love the ocean and a bit of magic thrown in. Summer, a twelve-year-old girl, loves the ocean and the feelings that swimming in the ocean bring to her. Summer was discovered wandering on the beach as a two-year-old and lived with Lindy, the young woman who found her, for many years. After a period of ten years, Summer begins to think about her past and wonder where she came from. She is given a chance to discover secrets when she gets caught up in a dangerous riptide while swimming in her beloved ocean one night. She manages to save herself after swallowing a large amount of salt water.

Sarno incorporates a bit of magic into the story when Summer begins to have strange dreams after swallowing the ocean water. The dream of a girl that Summer is convinced must be part of her past occurs over and over. Summer is not convinced that this girl is a real person, but some things about the girl in her dreams seem familiar. Tink, the girl in Summer's dreams, has a lesson for Summer in learning that family ties are the most important thing in everyone's life. The story of Tink and her sister that appear in Summer's dreams bring this lesson to life with magical elements.

Young readers will find this to be a page-turner as they follow the story in Summer's dream and in her reality as she learns to appreciate her life with Lindy. Melissa Sarno weaves this compelling story with both magic and reality. The text is creatively divided into dream and reality by separating Tink's story from Summer's reality. Gray colored pages with the use of an illustration of a phase of the moon separate the chapters of the dream from Summer's reality.

A Swirl of Ocean was published by Alfred A Knopf, a division of Random House Children's Books. It is recommended for ages 8-12 and has an ISBN of 978-1-5247-2012-4.

Bring A Swirl of Ocean Into the Classroom for Creative Lessons in Writing and Imagination

Teachers who teach English and Language Arts classes for ages 8-12 will want to add Melissa Sarno's new book A Swirl of Ocean to their classroom library. Opportunities for creative writing projects are some of my favorite activities for students in the middle grades and I always looked forward to pieces of writing that my students would produce when I was still in the classroom. A Swirl of Ocean is a chapter book that lends itself to sharing by reading aloud each day. Students always enjoy reading aloud to each other and this activity improves skills in reading aloud when incorporated into the day's reading schedule.

*Read a few chapters of A Swirl of Ocean each day. Call attention to the division of reality vs. dream in the colored pages of the book. There are two stories that can be separated when reading the gray pages.

*Call attention to the illustrations of moon phases on the top of each beginning of each chapter. How are the phases of the moon related to ocean tides?

*Moon phases and ocean tides offer the opportunity for students to explore this as a science lesson.

*Engage students in a discussion of their ideas of the cause of the dreams that Summer begins to have after she swallows ocean water when being caught in the riptide. Take a poll of students who have tasted ocean water. Prepare a mixture of salt and water for students to taste in order to explore the taste of the ocean.

*Engage students in a discussion of the elements of magic that Sarno incorporates into the story. How are dreams magical?

*Assign a creative writing project for students to write about a dream that they may have had after an extraordinary experience.

*Assign a creative writing project for students to explore a relationship with a family member who they consider to be a big part of their life and how they can experience better family ties.

© 2019 Cindy Hewitt


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