cover image The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

Jerry Pinkney. Little, Brown, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-316-44031-8

Caldecott Medalist Pinkney’s (A Place to Land) recasting of Andersen’s fairy tale affirms girls’ voices and power while offering dazzling undersea magic. Melody, the Sea King’s youngest daughter, spends her time sifting through shipwrecks until a forbidden trip to the ocean’s surface offers her a glimpse of Zion, a human girl she yearns to meet. A bargain struck with the terrifying Sea Witch gives Melody a human body in exchange for her voice, and she spends an idyllic day outside a sunbleached village with Zion, who is curious, patient, and accepting of Melody’s differences. Just as Melody appreciates shipwrecks, Zion investigates insects, and before Melody departs, Zion presents her with a chrysalis—a metaphor for Melody’s transformation. “It is growing wings, and very soon it will fly over land and sea.” The dynamic energy of the ocean currents, portraits of characters of color and entities both real and imagined, and a final battle with the Sea Witch give the undersea spreads breathtaking drama and sumptuousness, while the message (in Zion’s words, “you should have never given up your voice... for anything”) conveys the importance of summoning one’s own power and finding friends who do the same. Ages 4–8. Agent: Sheldon Fogelman, Sheldon Fogelman Agency. (Nov.)