The Melancholic Mermaid by Kallie George and Abigail Halpin
|The Melancholic Mermaid by Kallie George and Abigail Halpin|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: This lovely book feels like a traditional fairytale, and is a beautiful told, gorgeously illustrated story about friendship.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 64||Date: October 2010|
|Publisher: Simply Read Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Maude is a mermaid who was born with two tails. Her parents tell her it makes her special, stronger and faster, but amongst the other mermaid children it makes her an outcast. She is lonely, and she longs for a friend. Feeling sorry for herself one day she isn't paying attention and she is captured by a fisherman who sells her to a circus. On the same day that Maude was born, Tony was born in a cottage by the sea. He has webbed hands and, like Maude, is teased at school and left lonely and sad. His parents send him to live with the circus, believing he will be accepted and happy there but Tony is still lonely and he misses the sea. But then one day he is put in charge of a new attraction for the circus. A mermaid with two tails...
I really liked this story. It has a feel of a traditional fairytale to it but at the same time seems up to date, relevant to children's lives now. Both Maude and Tony experience bullying because of what they look like, and their one wish is to have a true friend. With strength and courage they do, ultimately, overcome adversity to escape. The epilogue to the book has a note that it is to be read only by those curious to know what happened next which I rather liked. We did read it, of course, and you'll be pleased to know it's all very satisfactory!
The language in the book is lovely. At the beginning the text immediately feels atmospheric and magical as we read deep in the sea, where whales drift like dark clouds above a coral kingdom, a beautiful merbaby was born with not one, but two shimmering tails. It's lovely to read aloud and the story is well-structured. The illustrations are beautiful, full of wonderful ocean colours, beautiful seaside skies and appealingly drawn characters. One image, across a double page, depicts poor Maude, sad and lonely and sitting at the bottom of the sea, her face in her hands. The sea is a wide expanse above her and, far away on the surface, there is a tiny fishing boat emphasising her distance from everyone and everything. I love the scale and space, the drama of the pictures. They compliment the text beautifully, capturing that magical fairytale feeling.
As it's relatively long for a picture book it doesn't immediately seem like something to read aloud, but I shared it with my four year old daughter and she sat, rapt throughout, for the whole story. I think if you have a patient younger child then it's a wonderfully rich story to share with them, but equally it would be a lovely story for mid-primary aged children to read by themselves.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
Further reading suggestion: For more beautifully illustrated traditional tales try The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, Naomi Lewis and Christian Birmingham or Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Melancholic Mermaid by Kallie George and Abigail Halpin at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Melancholic Mermaid by Kallie George and Abigail Halpin at Amazon.com.
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