Aquamarine, by Alice Hoffman, was a fun and mystical read about two 12 year-old girls, Claire and Hailey, that find a mermaid at the local beach club. At this point the movie and book differ quite a bit. The Capri Beach Club is closing for good at the end of the summer (not so, in the movie) and the girls are dreading Claire's move to Florida with her grandparents. In the movie Hailey is moving to Australia and Claire stays in Florida (where the movie is taking place).
The girls meet Aqua when a storm splashes her into the pool at the club. They befriend her and their adventure is the best thing the two can imagine, considering their life will change dramatically at the same time the Club closes. The book tells of the girls' wide-eyed excitement as they become friends with a mermaid. Aqua never leaves the water. The movie takes Aqua out of the water and gives her legs. Her goal in the movie is to find out if love really does exist. Enter Raymond. In Hoffman's version the girls and Raymond are friends and they introduce him to Aqua because she asks them to before she goes back to the sea. The movie has Aqua falling for Raymond, but the girls have crushes on him, too.
I thought the book was a great short read, but I can see that 8-12 year-old girls would enjoy both the book and the movie. The story about friendship is sweet and magical. I thought the movie added a few fun twists as it included starfish earrings that whispered encouraging and uplifting thoughts ("suck-ups") to the girls and Aqua's changing toenail polish colors. The movie also tied Claire's parents death to Aqua in that Aqua remembers seeing a couple on a boat (very much in love), which leads her on a search for love herself.
The book and movie end with Aqua finding that love exists in the friendship she has found with the girls and Raymond. As I read this book I thought that the girls in my third grade class would really enjoy the read and the fantasy of finding a mermaid. Of course, all the students could relate to having a long-time friend that is about to move. Aquamarine is a story about growing up and the end of certain chapters in our lives.