cover image Third Grade Mermaid

Third Grade Mermaid

Peter Raymundo. Scholastic Press, $12.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-545-91816-9

In this entertaining but uneven series opener, Cora the mermaid has no trouble with the “three S’s” of swimming, splashing, and singing, but a fourth—spelling—proves more difficult. Raymundo (The Monkey Goes Bananas) structures Cora’s story as a heavily illustrated diary, one filled with loose, energetic ink drawings colored with watery splashes of blue, as well as crossed-out words that reflect Cora’s spelling struggles. Brash and headstrong, Cora doesn’t hurt for personality, though her narration has a tendency to ramble (“I shouldn’t be saying I was there! And I wouldn’t if it wasn’t for... Ohhh! I’ll get to that! The fact is, I was there, okay?”) as the plot zigzags among Cora’s attempt hide her new pet (a gigantic shrimp mutated by toxic waste) from her mother, evade bully sharks, address friendship troubles, and improve her spelling grade. Ages 6–8. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Jan.)