A New Friend: An Acorn Book

Scholastic. (Mermaid Days: Bk. 3). Feb. 2023. 64p. Tr $23.99. ISBN 9781338794984; pap. $4.99. ISBN 9781338794977.
Gr 1-3–In this third installment of the "Mermaid Days" series, friends Vera and Beaker explore their world, help their neighbors, and learn science along the way. When their neighborhood has some unusual damage, they follow the clues to discover the culprit—a baby mantis shrimp! Lost and afraid, the mantis shrimp has been using its true-to-life power of creating shock waves by “punching” water and is accidentally leaving a wake of damage. Vera and Beaker learn about this power when it saves them from an oncoming shark. Now fast friends, the trio follows more clues to get the shrimp home and safe with its family. In a final adventure, they discover a box full of toys. They try to play together, but Baby Mantis Shrimp’s punching powers are too much—until they find just the right toy they can all play with together. While the narrative is easy to follow and the text is appropriate for children beginning to read independently, there are holes in the science. Mantis shrimp don’t live in sunken ships, nor is their “punching” power enough to break holes in things like mailboxes or library book drops. The digital illustrations don’t shine, and the expressions of the characters don’t always align with accompanying text, making it harder for readers to use pictures for context in decoding words. The book includes a character list, a page of approachable science, and instructions for drawing one of the characters.
VERDICT Doesn’t pack a punch. Not recommended for purchase.

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