A mustacheless mermaid learns to embrace her difference.
In this gorgeous ocean setting, Mabel’s “dad had a mustache. Her mom had a mustache….Even her baby brother had a tiny baby mustache.” Mabel doesn’t, and she’s horribly embarrassed about it. She tries to disguise her lack with shells or kelp, but when a pufferfish yells “nudibranch!” in her direction, she takes it as an insult and decides to hide in holes under the sand. While hiding she comes across a seven-legged octopus named Lucky, and together the two learn that their missing appendages don’t mean they have to miss out on anything. It’s a warm story of friendship, with countless rich details in the illustrations: a treasure-strewn ocean floor and fabulously expressive nudibranchs (a kind of sea slug). Watkins’ prose style is fun to read aloud, clipped and spare, though there are a few awkward moments of dialogue between mermaid and septopus. Both message and basic plot are well covered in picture books, however, and this one doesn’t particularly rise above the rest in delivery. Still, the presence of both mermaids and mustaches may heighten its appeal to a broader audience.
A somewhat special book about being special. (Picture book. 5-8)