Fiona Finn by Bridget McGowan
Fiona O’Malley was born with a fin on her back. Horrified, her parents wait for it to fall off. When it doesn’t fall off they opt to have it removed, but the fin keeps growing back. They resolve to keep it wrapped tight against her body in an attempt to hide it from the world. As she grows, Fiona makes many friends and discovers a passion and unique aptitude for swimming. She is happy until a slumber party mishap leads to the discovery of her fin. Rumors spread like wildfire around the school. The children don’t know what to believe, but Fiona is bullied and called names, most notably Fiona Finn. Most of her friends abandon her, except for two loyal girls, one of whom was born with one hand and knows what it is like to be different. Fiona continues to be bullied and her parents decide she must transfer to another school the following year, until one summer day at the beach when Fiona’s fin comes to the rescue and makes Fiona a local hero. Her parents are finally proud of their daughter and unashamed of her fin.
This book is intended for an elementary school audience. Fiona’s mysterious appendage gives the story a pleasant element of whimsy which prevents it from reading as too moralistic. However, at times the story is perhaps a bit harsh. For instance, Fiona’s mother is incredibly ashamed of her daughter and at one point Fiona receives a note that reads, “you’re dead.” It’s difficult to imagine a threat like this not being taken more seriously. Ultimately, Fiona Finn could be a useful tool for opening up discussions about bullying.
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