cover image Mermaid Dreams

Mermaid Dreams

Mark Sperring. Chicken House, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-79610-1

The bedtime storytelling tables are turned when a young heroine spins out an aquatic (and intentionally time-stalling) fantasy for her mother in this tale from the creators of Wanda's First Day. As Meriam reluctantly gets ready for bed, various sea flora, fauna and flotsam spill from her head: there's a shell and seaweed in her hair, and little fishes in her ears. With her mother gamely playing along, Meriam reveals that she's been to the beach that day, and dived ""deeper than where the octopuses dance... to pluck you the prettiest pearl!"" ""Oh my!"" says her mother-yet she firmly reminds Meriam that she's not off the hook as far as bedtime preparations go. Sperring's literal text takes a back seat to the Popes' artwork, in all its unabashedly girly extravagance. They seem inspired by young females' penchant for elaborate, relentlessly cheerful and hair-obsessed doodles, and cover the pages with deep pastel colors and a host of fanciful marine creatures circling around Meriam's crimped, exuberantly radiating tresses. It's a pretty safe bet that all this in-your-face prettiness will put off boys, but many girls will find it dreamy-and then some. Ages 3-6.