Welcome, eleven-year-old Grace (main character in Alice Kaltman’s new middle-grade novel, The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh). Thanks for stopping by MUF to tell us all about the ocean. And thank you to your creator, Alice Kaltman, for offering to give away a copy of your story!
Enter the giveaway below.
5 Interesting/Fun/Weird Facts I Learned About the Ocean by Grace Minnaugh, main character in The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh by Alice Kaltman
I guess you could say I, Grace Minnaugh, lead a decidedly double life. When I’m on land, I’m all girl, but when I’m fully submerged in seawater I’m all mermaid. I only discovered my mermaid self when I moved to California from Ohio, where there isn’t a puddle of seawater anywhere except maybe at aquariums, so you can imagine my surprise when I first transformed.
I learn new things about life underwater every time I take a dive. Some of these oddities are particular to me, myself, and I as a mermaid, and some are honest to goodness facts that sounds too fantastical to be true. Here are my top five ocean-y shares:
- I breathe fish-style underwater, with magical gills that pop out from behind my ears once I’m in mermaid mode. Breathing with gills is awesome. I take sips of water through my mouth, and exhale the water through my gills. My gills dissolve the oxygen from the water (The O in the H2O), and pump it through my blood to my cells. My gills feel like little curtains flapping behind my ears. Ticklish, but not annoying. It’s a relaxing tickle, more like a scalp massage.
- I adore dolphins. Even before I became a mermaid I thought they were the most amazing animals on the planet. Did you know that merpeople and dolphins share a very cool power, aside from being lovable and super friendly? We both navigate through the water using a technique called echolocation. We emit bio sonar waves from our foreheads that rebound off creatures and plants and tell us how far away and how big they are. This is a crucial skill to have when we’re about to encounter a hungry Great While or Tiger Shark. Usually those guys leave us alone, but when they’re particularly peckish, our flesh-eating shark friends can be a tad unpredictable. Better to use echolocation and find a hiding place to chill for a while then be a shark’s midday treat. Interesting sidebar: Dolphins have gigantic foreheads, which human scientist have decided to call melons, because, duh, they look like melons, but we merpeople have much more attractive, normal-sized foreheads.
- Some merpeople, but not all, can swim really fast, like faster than a speedboat fast. I’m one of those lucky ones. I wish you could see me kick my monofin as rapidly as possible, while the water courses through my gills, and my hair streams behind me like a sail. I suppose you’ll have to read “The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh” to find out more about this particular mer-superpower. I can’t even describe how stupendous it feels.
- One of my favorite sea species of all times is the sea slug. Those little creatures store up sun rays like plants and illuminate like little blobs of sunshine underwater! Sea slugs are particularly handy—if slippery— to have around when you’re fluttering through a super dark underwater cavern many meters under the surface. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nearly gotten lost, but for those little babies lighting my way. My all time favorite type of sea slug is the Flabellina polaris, or Tanglewing. It is covered with tendrils tipped with light, like a magical illuminated feather; beautiful, but super slimy to the touch so beware!
- Lastly, I’m not sharing this to be a mer-Debby Downer, but rather, to alert you to something you can do to help save our oceans: One of the most spectacular living entities underwater are the many, many species of coral. I can’t even begin to tell you how beautiful they are—the shapes, the sizes, the awe-inspiring colors, and how important they are to the ocean ecosystem. But coral reefs are being destroyed all over the globe. It really stresses me out. One thing that kills coral is when humans use non-reef friendly sunscreen and swim with that stuff sprayed or glopped all over their bodies. These products are super bad for coral, in a variety of ways. You can read more about it here, but in the meantime, tell your parents to just buy mineral sunscreens, especially lotions containing non-nano zinc dioxide as the primary active ingredient. Everything else is poison!
About The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh by Alice Kaltman
Eleven-year-old Grace Minnaugh is not a fan of big changes. She’s miserable during her first weeks in the seaside town of La Toya, sulking like a spoiled brat. Her family embraces the California lifestyle and Grace decides to embrace the seductive beauty of the sea. One fateful morning, while taking a predawn swim, she is caught in a thunderstorm. Without the ocean skills to survive, she’s sucked below the surface, convinced she will drown. Instead, a new life begins. Gills rip open from behind her ears and her legs fuse together to form a fishtail. Grace Minnaugh is a mermaid, and a gorgeous one at that. On land, Grace is still the same walking, talking social misfit she’s always been. But in the salty sea, she’s an underwater marvel. Grace decides not to tell a soul about her flip-floppy double life, but things get complicated when Grace befriends Alfie DeCosta, a kid who’s obsessed with finding an elusive shipwreck off the coast of La Toya. Grace knows exactly where the shipwreck is. But she can’t tell Alfie about it, or can she?