cover image Mermaids on Parade

Mermaids on Parade

Melanie Hope Greenberg, . . Putnam, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-24708-8

Greenberg's (A City Is ) portrayal of the annual Mermaid Parade in Coney Island jumps to life with spreads of quirky costumed entrants rendered in saltwater-taffy hues. A young narrator and her family prepare for and then march in this Brooklyn tradition, which opens the ocean beach each summer. Flat, naïve-styled gouache illustrations invite readers on a Where's Waldo–like search to find the girl (dressed as a mermaid in her seashell wagon) and her parents; one inventive scene offers an aerial view of the parade route. The narrative at times is protracted, possibly more so to those unfamiliar with the event (“The ocean air smells extra salty./ The streets are electric with excitement”). Despite the slightly contrived ending, in which the narrator wins first prize for “Best Little Mermaid,” celebratory scenes packed with myriad geometric motifs succeed in capturing the festival spirit. A note provides a short history of the event. Ages 3–5. (May)