Tuesday, January 29, 2008

To Catch a Mermaid

To Catch a Mermaid 

To Catch a Mermaid by Suzanne Selfors, illustrated by Catia Chien, 2007

In an instant, Boom and his sister Mertyle lost their mother when a twister touched down in their front yard and swept her away. No trace of her was ever found causing their father to quit work and retreat to the attic in fear of the tornado's return.

Mertyle is certain that her mother will return so she stays home from school every day to wait for her. The family is barely functioning. Short on funds, Boom brings home a bucket of seafood rejects for their for dinner. Beneath the seaweed and fish, he and Mertyle find a merbaby and, soon, a world of trouble when Mertlye is stricken with a mysterious illness. Catia Chien's humorous illustrations underline that this merbaby is not the Garth Williams cherub from my childhood storybook nor is it a Disney baby Ariel. Rather, it is a growling, stinky, burping, razor-fanged creature that is a danger in many ways.

This is a light-hearted, middle grade reader but below the fantasy the story addresses the painful loss of a parent. Boom is a character to admire as he pushes forward when others in his family are paralyzed by their loss. I give Selfors great credit for the direction of the story. She surprised me with the ending which made the story richer and more meaningful.

All in all, a fun and very satisfying read.


Anonymous said...

Hi Camille. Thanks for the lovely review. I just read your "School Visit" entry, packed-full of great advice. I've been to ten schools now but made a huge mistake during the first school visit. I was told that the kids had finished my book and so I led a discussion about the surprise ending. Turned out, only half of them had finished. Ugh! Live and learn.
Thanks again and Happy Reading.

Ladytink_534 said...

Sounds intereting. Most authors tend to go for cutesie when they talk about mermaids. Wonder why this one didn't.

Camille said...

I'm looking forward to reading the "shakespeare" book very much.