Selkie Girl is set in a fishing village on the Orkney Island of Shapinsay in the North Sea. Elin Jean is the sixteen-year-old daughter a fisherman. The villagers believe too many seals (or selkies, as they call them) are eating all the fish, so each year there is a bloody culling of the newborn seal pups.
Elin Jean does her best to lobby for the seals, and tries to keep them safe as best she can. That protective instinct, and her fondness for swimming far out to sea while others dare not even wade, seems to have earned her the title Selkie Girl. But there’s something more.
Elin Jean has been kept apart from the other children her whole life. She’d thought it was all her father’s doing until she sneaks out one day and meets the other children on their way to school. Without pause, they shun her for her strange webbed hands, throw stones, and taunt her with, “Selkie Girl! Selkie Girl!” as if that were a bad thing.
Only Tam, the Gypsy boy (and something of an outcast himself), shows her any kindness, but she doesn’t know how to accept it. She has no trust of kindness.
The book follows Selkie legend when Elin discovers a sealskin stuffed in a hole over a door. It’s the skin Elin’s father stole from her Selkie mother sixteen years ago, and has kept hidden ever since, forcing the woman to live on land in human form.
Elin must choose whether to give the skin back to her mother and set her free, or put it back in its secret
hiding place. She loves her mother and wants her to be free, but cannot bear the thought of living without
More choices are in store for Elin when she discovers that she is half selkie. Will she stay on land, nurture the
affection she and Tam have for each other, and protect the seal pups? Or will she dive into the sea and try
to make a life among the Selkies?
Selkie Girl is recommended for grades 6-9, and those who might enjoy a poetic fish story.