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by Kallie George & illustrated by Abigail Halpin

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-897476-53-6
Publisher: Simply Read

A mermaid is born with two tails, and a boy is born with webbed fingers in this lengthy original fairy tale. They suffer the tribulations that are the lot of the different: ridicule and shunning. Neither has friends, and they are both delivered unto a circus sideshow presided over by the shrill and heartless Ring Mistress (drawn with marcel wave and pinched mouth). The two begin to wither in their own ways, until fate draws them into close association and they discover their similarities; not just the webbed fingers but something deeper and elementally innocent binds them. George’s narrative is ethereal and formal, with a voiceover quality that invests the artwork with cinematic flow. Halpin’s curious combination of aggressively cherubic, if somewhat characterless, faces and emotive, atmospheric settings benefits from this. It says much for the writing that it carries the reader along, despite the bonding of the mermaid and the boy being foregone, their escape destined (though that’s a drawn-out affair in which the illustrations can’t corral all the action). The epilogue has an unexpected, romantic twist—heroic, adventurous, idealized—that bodes well for a sequel. (Picture book. 6-9)