TITLE: The Mermaid and the Shoe
AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: K. G. Campbell
Publisher: Kids Can Press, 2014
Themes: Self-esteem/discovery, adventure
Opening lines: "King Neptune had fifty daughters.
They were his pride and joy."
Synopsis: When an unfamiliar item sinks into Minnow's world under the sea she sets off to find its purpose, and in doing so finds her own.
What I like about this book: It feels like an old fable. Going against current trends in picture books, the main character isn't introduced until the third page. First the scene, tone and mood are set. The muted underwater illustrations bring to mind the real-life shadowy underwater world, with bright colors saved for Minnow's peek of the world above water. But the bright colors don't signal a longing for another life or another world like other mermaid stories. Minnow's curiosity and fearlessness combine with an overlooked talent that makes this mermaid a happy one right at home where she belongs. One of my favorite lines is also one that may not be a favorite with everyone:
"Useless!" hissed Calypso (for sisters can be mean that way).
While I don't think all sisters are mean (!), for me it captured the tumultuous emotions of childhood, but others may feel differently. That's a good talking point below.
(Fun note: the author/illustrator also illustrated Kate Di Camillo's book Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures)
- Take a walk and look for lost objects. Make up stories about where they came from and what they can be used for. Some of the stories can be realistic, some fantastical! (Bring heavy gloves and a bag if you want to pick the objects up--they may be dirty or sharp! Have an adult pick it up.)
- Talk about brothers and sisters. Is this story an accurate portrayal of people you know? What could the older sisters have done differently?
- An extensive review (giving away the ending-spoiler alert!) in School Library Journal
- Recycle an old pair of shoes as a planter, a jewelery box like Minnow tried, or some other idea you come up with!
Thanks again for stopping by!