Wealthy, odious collectors of marine life pursue the last creature needed to complete their collection—a “genuine rainbow-scaled, green-skinned, fluorescent mermaid.”
This latest translated chapter book from Funke (Ruffleclaw, 2015, etc.) opens with a pair of Roald Dahl–type villains, Mr. and Mrs. Snorkel. Owners of many businesses, they devote their wealth to obtaining all sorts of sea creatures for their not-quite-so-well–tended collection. They’ve invested enough in their hobby to have their own “lightning-fast submarine” and to hire multiple underwater detectives to try to find them an elusive mermaid. Finally, the most famous of these underwater detectives succeeds, locating a secret underwater mermaid city. Meanwhile, at the city, adventurous young merpups like titular Lilly and Fin ignore warnings about the Two-Legs to explore and play beyond its borders, making them vulnerable to the Snorkels’ minion. Sure enough, they manage to nab Fin. Lilly escapes through a dark crevice only to find the other cautionary tale she didn’t really believe in—the kraken. The kraken is friendly, lonely, and playful—though his manners aren’t exactly on point—and moreover is willing to help his new friend rescue Fin. The green-skinned merpups find the white villains pretty disgusting (the kraken deems dark-skinned Two-Legs somewhat less repulsive). The illustrations provide scale—and scales—enhancing the straightforward story.
An entertaining story with sly humor and an old-fashioned vibe. (Fantasy. 7-9)