That’s “merbooks” as in “mermaid books,” in case that wasn’t clear!
My 3-year-old daughter currently has a bit of an obsession with mermaids. And I am not just talking about Arial of Disney fame – although she is a fan. She is just interested in mermaids overall. Why? How? I will never know. Such is the mystery of being a parent.
Her birthday is coming up and we settled on a mermaid theme for our decorations and cupcakes. To help inspire our efforts I made a broad sweep of mermaid related picture books in our collections. Here’s my review of what we’ve checked out:
Lovely Ruby and the Mermaid
By Nancy Trott
The mermaid isn’t really the main character in this book. The story is about friends who are now separated after one of them, Ruby, moves by the sea. Ruby walks the beach and sends treasures back to her friend who narrates the story. It is a sweet and mild story but it didn’t turn out to be my daughter’s favorite.
By Teresa Bateman
Illustrated by Patience Brewster
This one is a serious and lengthy story that is probably more appropriate for older kids. The vocabulary is advanced and the concepts a bit deep – it is really a commentary on greed and making moral choices and perhaps of not pre-judging each other. You should also be warned that the mermaids in the story are of the traditional bent. They are enemies of humans and, as a general rule, entice them to the death and doom. I think some of the story went over my daughter’s head. That said, my daughter was very enchanted with the idea of a “merbaby” (a baby mermaid).
By Mary Ann Fraser
This book is a bit silly but my daughter loved it. A girl who is annoyed with her younger brother seeks out a sister. A mermaid responds to her note in a bottle and they take her home where she somehow easily lives on land. Hilarity ensues (“We both like to dance. I do hip hop; she does flip flop.”) as does the usual sibling fighting and difficulty with sharing space. Turns out sisters fight too. Good lessons about getting along with siblings and missing your family.
The Mermaid of Cafur
By Evelyn Foster & Olwyn Whelan
This is my overall favorite. It’s based on a Celtic tale and, like other traditional tales, has some scary elements. Arianne, the queen of the mermaids, snatches children off shore and makes them into her servants. When she tires of them she turns them into sea bass! A boy is snatched and his faithful sister quests to rescue him. The illustrations are especially beautiful and there is a happy ending. Plus, I can report no bad dreams resulted from reading this.
Mermaid Tales from Around the World
Retold by Mary Pope Osborne
Illustrated by Troy Howell
I did not even bother reading this one to my daughter. It is very lengthy and there is only a single illustration at the opening of each page. It is actually shelved with the non-fiction and is not really a picture book at all. All of the stories are based on traditional ones from a wide range cultures (including one that is from the Ottawa people, which I thought was interesting). I read it for myself just because I was curious but would not recommend it for young children.