Middle Grade Monday: Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry
Title: Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry
Author: Rosalie K. Fry
Publication Info: Kindle edition, NYR Children's Collection. Original hardback, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1957, 87 pages, as Child of the Western Isles.
Source: Library digital editions
Fiona McConville is a child of the Western Isles, living on the Scottish mainland. City life doesn’t suit Fiona and at age ten she is sent back to her beloved isles to live with her grandparents. There she learns more about her mother’s strange ways with the seals and seabirds; hears stories of the selkies, mythological creatures that are half seal and half human; and wonders about her baby brother, Jamie, who disappeared long ago but whom fishermen claim to have seen. Fiona is determined to find Jamie and enlists her cousin Rory to help. When her grandparents are suddenly threatened with eviction, Fiona and Rory go into action. Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry is a magical story of the power of place and family history, interwoven with Scottish folklore. Rosalie K. Fry’s novel, which was the basis for John Sayles’s classic 1994 film The Secret of Roan Inish, is back in print for the first time in decades.
I pulled this one off my TBR list without much of a look at what it was, and was pleasantly surprised by a charming story that also provides some cool mythology from what I will choose to consider my ancestors. I didn't realize at first that there would be fantasy elements (the mythology), so was a little surprised when it took that turn, but enjoyed it all. The author makes not attempt to excessively explain what happened to Jamie; the reader and the characters alike just take it as a given that this is plausible.
Perhaps for me the most compelling aspect of the story was the deep connection the characters have to their island homes. I've been thinking a lot about place and what constitutes home, so it fit right in with my musings. Fiona, her grandparents, and her cousin Rory are people who cannot thrive away from their islands. In a way, Jamie represents that need for the sea and the island in a more concrete way.
I did find the ending a bit abrupt, but once I got over turning the page and finding the book was done, I decided it was the right place to end it. If I'd been reading a "real" book instead of a Kindle book, I wouldn't have been taken by surprise!
I think that in spite of some dated aspects of the story, mostly about male/female roles, kids today will relate to the little tale of a girl and the people around her who want to keep their home.