A mermaid ashore is indeed a fish out of water--so it's only to be expected that the mermaid swept out of the Zuider Zee by a storm will be unhappy churning butter and tatting lace at Klumperty Farm. Young Hansy sympathizes: why should his three older sisters assume that being ""like us. . . is the best you can be""? And, when he brings the mermaid a clump of seaweed (from the bottom of a canal boat), she regales him with talk of ""her seashell collection and her little house set among tall seaweed,"" playing ""water tag with the mermen and mermaids""--which, in Noble's prosaic illustrations, is mostly embarrassing. In the winter, unable to skate, the mermaid does enjoy gliding across the ice in Hansy's sled. That imaginative touch, however, is the only one the book has to offer: come the next stormy March, and the next overflowing sea, the mermaid returns to her proper realm; purportedly, she'll protect sea-captain Hansy forever. Unimaginative fancy, literally rendered--with rather bland, washed-out pictures and text.