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The Turning

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  136 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Does he belong to the land or to the sea?

Readers who loved Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moon and Pam Muñoz Ryan's Echo will be transported to the place where the water and land meet in this exquisitely crafted coming-of-age tale about a selkie boy.

Aran has never truly fit in with his selkie clan. He was born in his human form, without a p
Published July 24th 2018 by Greenwillow Books
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  136 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was delighted by this coming of age tale about a half-human/half-selkie boy. The descriptions of life at sea and on land are rich and the selkie mythology is fun to learn about.

It's one of those fantasy books that's really about family, friendship, and loving yourself.

(I was provided an ARC. This is my honest review)
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book more than once. I read it on its release date and then again last night after seeing Bo Burnham's film "Eighth Grade" with my teen daughter, because both address the discomfort, that squash and stretch betweeen being and becoming- that crucial time where we go from others defining us to deciding how we define ourselves.

Emily Whitman has conjured a magical boy, Aran, who is yearning to not only fit into his own skin, but to actually find it. He's part-human, part-s
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Emily Whitman is a beautiful writer and this book is wonderful. I couldn't wait to find out what would happen to Aran. Would he stay a boy or would he figure out how to get his pelt and become the seal he dreamed of becoming? You'll have to read to find out!
Gerard Villegas
A beautifully, written middle reader fantasy that utilizes the selkie myth but with a male protagonist. Half human/half selkie Aran is the outsider of his clan. Born without a seal pelt, his mother and clean venture deep into the sea to find him one, leaving him among humans. As Aran adjusts to life on land, he quickly learns what it means to be an ordinary person.

Sweet and touching, this has similar qualities to The Girl Who Drank the Moon and Echo. Aran is the perfect hero. Naive,
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful coming of age story about a young half-human, half-selkie boy. It’s hard to call this a fantasy because every character in it is so believable; Aran and his selkie clan seem as real as the humans he meets on Spindle Island and who help him learn about his human side. This is the kind of children's book I enjoy, one that conveys a valuable life lesson in a way that’s imaginative and direct. Reading The Cafe by the Sea piqued my curiosity about selkies, the mythical sea folk of Scottish ...more
Karen Johnson
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book surprised me. It's not my preferred genre, and I didn't know anything about selkies in mythology prior to reading it, but I sure do now.

The story was interesting and it had lots of adventure, with some good surprises along the way. It's marketed for grades 3 - 7, but I think certainly 8th-graders would like it, and maybe even high school kids. (It's not the genre for everyone though, and I think it's a little mature for 3rd and 4th-graders.

There are coming-of-age elements,
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, 2018
Interesting book about a boy and his hope to get his selkie skin. Not knowing much about selkies, I found this story informative, interesting and heart-warming. Now I want to know everything I can about them! And yes, I have since watched The Song of the Sea.
Shane Brown
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Emily Whitman weaves a beautiful tale that ebbs and flows like the ocean itself. With the graceful mix of lore and the struggle of maturing from childhood, this book harkens back to the kind books that kids and adults learned remember when they fell in love with reading.
Annie Young
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The stringing together of these particular words forms one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have ever read. It is because of this book that I even began to consider a question: what’s your favorite chapter in a book? I love this entire work of art, but “Lost”, chapter 53 on page 319, is one of the loveliest anythings I’ve ever read. Anyone who has struggled and endured can read this chapter as a stand-alone piece and relate to it. Feel it down to the bone.

I am amazed by the
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is exactly the type of book I wished I could have read when I was younger
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I often get asked how I choose books to read. One of the first places I turn is the Maine Student Book Award List for the upcoming school year. The schools I have worked at often do a lot with the lists, and I want to be able to join my students on that journey. THE TURNING is the first book I’ve read from the 2019-2020 list.

THE TURNING by Emily Whitman

Aren is a selkie (a seal in water that can become human on land) who was born in “longlimbs” (human form). It’s been elev
Have you heard about selkies? (A creature that is both seal and human) Aran was born to a selkie mother and human father and has yet to "turn". As he grows older the question of whether he will ever turn becomes more possible. His mother decides to leave him in the care of a human woman while she and the clan undertake a journey north to seek help in his transformation. Life on land is hard for Aran, but he comes to care for the ailing woman, Maggie, and a neighbor girl, Nellie who lives with he ...more
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a sweet middle grade tale about a boy torn between two identities.

It had a slow beginning for me, but I felt that it found a nice pace towards the middle and stuck with it to the end.

(view spoiler) ...more
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This middle grade story about a selkie boy longing for his pelt was so lovely and wrapped me up like a warm hug. Aran was seeking so many answers and learned so much as he grew during his time on Spindle Island.

The other characters played great supporting roles in Aran's story. Maggie and Nellie were both splendid, especially Nellie with her complete acceptance and support of Aran. They both helped him see a different side of love and being who you truly are.

The writing t
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
A strange book -- the voice didn't quite land for me, but the tone did. Aran's situation came through very powerfully, and his attempts to understand human life worked well, but I never got a good sense of what he looked like or how old he was. Nelly seemed a bit too good to be true. The ending didn't quite work, but the solo days on the sea were beautiful -- like the ocean in a storm this had a lot of highs and lows. I will have to sleep on it.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book could possibly be three stars 🤷🏼♀. I just found it to be dry and the story felt so drawn out. I thought the author did an excellent job of representing the inner turmoil Aran feels and his struggles to accept his reality. There was some likeness to Ariel in the Little Mermaid. Unfortunately, I just felt like this was a book that didn’t call to me and that I had to force myself to finish. ...more
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This Maine Student Book Award book was so compelling and meaningful. Don’t we all search for meaning in our lives? Who am I? What am I? What will I do with my life and will I be a good person? Will others love me? Will I be alone? All of these questions are asked in this book. I was thinking about Aran when I wasn’t reading it and rooting for him on his great journey of self-discovery every step of the way.
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a lovely book. Aran is half human and half selkie. He was born in human form, and cannot change into a seal the way the rest of his clan can. In this beautifully written book Aran learns to embrace both sides of his nature. The writing is clear and at times poetic. Aran is a vivid character trying to make his way in a confusing human world. The mythic world of the book combined with selkie folklore felt real and believable.
Amanda Doss
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. It was written for Tweens, but I thought it was so beautiful and thoughtful and maybe a little too sad for kids. The writing style was very poetic to me and lyrical. I could feel the boy's longing and fear. It also wasn't always action packed, so I'm not so sure all Tweens will love it, but the imagery and beauty of the writing made me want to read more and more. I wsa sad when I finished it because I wanted more.
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book and my kid did, too. It was a great one to read aloud because the sentences quite often have a beautiful, lyrical quality that made it a joy to hear.

Aran is a half-human selkie waiting to get his pelt so he can join his clan for a life at sea. He doesn't know or understand his human side until he is forced to confront it and learn.
Carlie Corson
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The author ended this book perfectly! Don’t get me wrong, the whole book was fantastic, but the ending was exactly what I wanted to read. Emily Whitman was able to provide an ending that you wouldn’t expect while still staying true to the characters. I very rarely see this and I applaud her for executing it beautifully!
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even better than I was expecting, which is saying something because I had some pretty high hopes! This book takes you through a lot of really cool ideas and has a fun plot with great characters. I would definitely suggest reading this.
Andrea Chacon
I think the book the turning is a very good book to read and it's about a little boy who is almost turning into a selkie but can not turn in to one it's about learning how to adapt to new environments all though it could be scary for a little bit but you will be fine
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oh. This book pulses with a rich theme of discovery and belonging, of friendship and family, of deep ocean lore and the true magic that happens when you finally accept the gift of who you are. A heartbreaking, life-affirming little book. Middle grade really does have some of the dearest treasures.
Jackie Ostrowicki
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Wonderful book about a selkie without a pelt, a clan and mother who loves him, and his search for where he belongs. Will he turn? Where does he fit when he is neither fully human nor fully selkie?

FYI: Human greed, cancer and alcoholism make a guest appearance in the book.
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The ending was not what I expected, but this book held my interest from the start.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: teaching, msba-2019
Seal boy- selkie myth
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: youth
Fantasy about selkies, set in contemporary world. Selkie culture was cool, poems/songs to interpret, well-developed characters, very happy ending.
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent YA coming of age fantasy!
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In Emily Whitman’s novels for kids and teens, myth and magic are part of everyday life. The Turning, based on Celtic folklore, is a Junior Library Guild selection. Radiant Darkness was number one on the IndieBound Kid’s Next List. Wildwing won the Oregon Book Award and was a Bankstreet College Best Children’s Book. Emily grew up in Colorado and studied history at Harvard and UC Berkeley. She's wor ...more
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