A disappointing deluge dampens Emily’s spirits, but imagination and resourcefulness save the day.
Emily awakens to discover that the picnic for her friends’ last day at the beach will have to be canceled because heavy rain “streamed down the windowpane and plopped into puddles on the deck.” Using a familiar theme, Leech’s (The Dollies Put On a Play, 2009, etc.) text effectively echoes the voices of children. For example, when Mother says that friends can still come over and play inside despite the rain, Emily grumbles to herself that an indoor picnic is “nothing but plain old lunch.” Emily is soon inspired by her little sister’s mermaid doll and decides to have a mermaid picnic outside on the deck—complete with starfish-shaped sandwiches made from “Seanut butter and Jellyfish”—because mermaids “don’t care if it’s raining or not.” Mother suggests they bake “Sand Tarts,” which are cookies covered in crunchy sugar and cinnamon, so the girls walk to the local general store with “a splish, a splash, and a sploosh” to buy baking ingredients from a friendly grocer. Leech’s lovely watercolor art has a classic feel and lends a light, dreamy touch to the story. Of course, the mermaid picnic is a success, as the rosy-cheeked children use creativity to overcome disappointment. The girls dress up as mermaids in outfits fashioned from bathing suits and Mother’s beach skirts. A deck table is decorated, and the girls sing, dance and tell stories amid the raindrops. The author includes a mermaid song at the end of the book, as well as a recipe for sand tarts, which would make a fun activity for kids and their parents or caregivers. This cheerful book would also make a nice addition to a library’s rainy day–themed reading display. Adults searching for children’s books shouldn’t expect the new or exotic here, as the storyline is predictable. However, Leech presents the subject in a pleasant way, and the lesson is not overly preachy or condescending. While there are numerous books with a similar theme, the simplistic beauty of this one makes it appealing.
Sure to meet the approval of mermaid lovers everywhere.