It’s Stranger Things season four that everyone asks you if you’ve watched yet.


It’s the trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever that is popping up everywhere.


It’s the TikTok video everyone is talking about and sharing.


It’s the performance on America’s Got Talent everyone is buzzing about.


It’s all of these, except it’s the book The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune.


Last week, after trading messages on TikTok with my former teaching partner who is in the process of interviewing for librarian positions, she sent this: “Speaking of reading. I just finished The House in the Cerulean Sea. It’s made my top 5. It’s just lovely.”  


This book has sat on my TBR, or rather my to-be-acquired, list for quite some time as I waited for the right time to dive into it, but for months my social media feeds have burst with pageantry, praise, and palpable predilection for this book. 


They aren’t wrong.


Linus Baker is a governmental case worker in Department in Charge of Magical Youth who is given a special assignment by Extremely Upper Management to spend a month living with, observing, and reporting on an orphanage of magical youth on a far-away island to determine the fate of the children, the orphanage, and the master of the orphanage.


This should be no problem for Linus Baker. It is his job. He visits, reports on, and makes recommendations about orphanages and magical youth regularly.


But this is different. These magical youth are different, as Linus Baker discovers when he reads the first file on one of the magical youth.










Linus fainted dead away. (56)


But remember what my former teaching partner/future librarian said: “It’s just lovely.”


And it is.


It is a book of acceptance, understanding, and looking beyond how everyone sees you and what everyone expects you to be.


Linus Baker experiences his first taste of this as soon as he arrives on the island and is escorted from the ferry by Ms. Chapelwhite, a caretaker and an unregistered magical being. Linus soon recognizes the distance the townsfolk keep from him and Ms. Chapelwhite.


“He tried waving at a few of them, but it didn’t do any good. He even saw a man inside what looked like a seafood shanty reach up and lock the door as they drove by,


‘Well, I never,’ Linus said with a sniff.


‘You get used to it,’ Ms. Chapelwhite said. ‘Surprisingly.’


‘Why are they like this?’


‘I don’t pretend to know the minds of men,’ she said, hands tightening on the steering wheel as a woman on the sidewalk appeared to shield her chubby, squawking children away from the car. ‘They fear what they don’t understand. And that fear turns to hate for reasons I’m sure even they can’t begin to comprehend. And since they don’t understand the children, since they fear them, they hate them. This can’t be the first time you’ve heard of this. It happens everywhere’” (65).


The House in the Cerulean Sea is fun, funny, deep, poignant, and yes, as my friend says, “lovely.” 


As we move closer to the beginning of a new school year, The House in the Cerulean Sea is must-have for your classroom library. 


Fair warning–get more than one copy.


Download the accompanying lesson to easily print or save!



Michael Méndez Guevara is a former high school journalism and English teacher who spent his time in the classroom helping students see themselves as writers and fall in love with reading through the world of young adult literature. As an educational sales consultant with Perfection Learning®, Michael works with teachers and schools on improving their literacy instruction and providing resources to help students achieve academic success. He has taught elementary school, middle school, and high school and has worked as a district level leader and served on the Texas state standards revision committee that developed the state’s current literacy standards. He is the father of three adult sons, the youngest a student at the University of Kansas—Rock Chalk! Michael is working on a professional development book for literacy educators and currently has agents reading the manuscript of his young adult novel, The Closest Thing to a Normal Life. When he's not reading, writing, or running, Michael is fully committed to watching as much Law & Order as possible.