The Girl and the Mermaid

Bloomsbury. Jun. 2024. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781547614349.
PreS-Gr 2–A tender reminder of the power of stories and family, this magical mermaid tale focuses on lighthouse keeper Alina. She lives in the lighthouse with her granny, the original lighthouse keeper and storyteller, but Granny’s memory fades and Alina becomes the caregiver. While this subtext is glossed over with uneven rhyming stanzas, the love between Alina and Granny is beautifully expressed in Massini’s art. Mixed media watercolor and pencil collage renders layers of soft vignettes of Alina braiding a crown of roses into Granny’s hair as they talk quietly over tea. Muted tones and soft light weave an intimacy that is not established by the rhyme scheme, which is inelegantly placed on the page. Rather than place the text as a stanza, as it is elsewhere, it is typeset as a couplet. When a mermaid from Granny’s yarns appears, Alina dives in and discovers an underwater world, obtaining a “story shell” of memories to bring back for Granny, and the inspiration to share it with others through the lighthouse. Symbolism of the shell in the art and text provides opportunities to use this for story hours to ignite a shared experience. Merpeople are diverse in skin color; Alina and Granny are brown-skinned.
VERDICT An additional selection, mostly for fans of merpeople and underwater adventures.

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