Illustrated by: August Hall
For Ages: 8 - 12
  • 6
Keeper was born in the ocean, and she believes she is part mermaid. So as a ten-year-old she goes out looking for her mother—an unpredictable and uncommonly gorgeous woman who swam away when Keeper was three—and heads right for the ocean, right for the sandbar where mermaids are known to gather. But her boat is too small for the surf—and much too small for the storm that is brewing on the horizon.

Kathi Appelt follows her award-winning and New York Times bestselling novel The Underneath with this stunning, mysterious, and breathtaking tale of a girl who outgrows fairy tales just a little too late—and learns in the end that there is nothing more magical and mythical than love itself.
  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 
  • 416 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416950608 | 
  • May 2010 | 
  • Grades 3 - 7 | 
  • Lexile ® 770
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Reading Group Guide

Keeper by Kathi Appelt
A Discussion Guide

Prereading Activity
References to mermaids and mermen are woven throughout the story of Keeper and her family.  Ask students to form small groups to investigate the legends and folklore surrounding mermaids and mermen.  Ask each group to research one of the following: Sedna, Ningyo, sirens, Meerfrau, Yemaya, Lorelei, and Rusalka.  Have students prepare a presentation for  the class that would include their findings and a picture of their subject.

Discussion Questions
1.  What is a blue moon? How often does a blue moon occur?  What important events supposedly occur on the night of a blue moon?  

2.  Why does the author allow the reader to see the human characters from Sinbad and BD’s points-of-view?  How do the animals portray the humans?  What do the readers learn about the animals that they wouldn’t know if they were not able to read the account from the animals’ points-of-view?

3.  On page 92, Keeper refers to “double insurance.”  What does she mean by that phrase?  How does Keeper gain “double insurance”?

4.  What does the reader learn about Signe through Keeper’s descriptions and interactions with her?  How would you describe Keeper and Signe’s relationship?

5.& see more

More Books from this Author

Our Story Begins
Maybe a Fox
Counting Crows

About the Author

Kathi Appelt
Photograph courtesy of the author

Kathi Appelt

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award–winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Maybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and many picture books including Counting Crows. She has two grown children and lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband. Visit her at