Athena Crowley seems like your average 11-year-old girl—at least, as average as an 11-year-old girl can be when she lives full-time at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas and her dad is the archaeologist who discovered the ruins of the long-lost city of Atlantis. But everything changes one day when an old sea turtle starts talking to her, and Athena realizes she can communicate with animals. She undertakes an amazing journey to explore her roots at the bottom of the sea…and perhaps, to understand the mystery of why her mother disappeared…
I came to this book with some preconceived notions—one, it’s a resort tie-in to the actual Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, so I figured there’d be some pretty shameless marketing here, and two, I hated the title and worried the book would be just as bad—but the concept intrigued me, and the actual novel surprised me. And there was hardly any shameless marketing to be found.
It’s geared towards 8-12 year olds (or I imagine any kid staying at the resort without reading material), and it does a wonderful job of not talking down, my biggest pet peeve in children’s literature. Yes, the story’s going to be a little goody-goody for older readers and it won’t exactly expand the horizons of younger ones, but it’s sweet, engaging, and surprisingly imaginative—the perfect vacation bedtime story.
The character of Athena was a little flat, but I enjoyed Athena’s parents, as well as the dynamic of bipeds versus mermaids under the sea. And the beautiful illustrations added a lot to the story—I’m a sucker for pretty pictures in any book, and these were definitely pretty.
I probably could find bad things to say about it as a story—the writing wasn’t brilliant, and a lot of aspects of the story were (predictably) clichéd—but I’m still so shocked at how far “The Girl from Atlantis” by Richard Schenkman surpassed my expectations that I’m not going to say them.