Frances Minters, , illus. by G. Brian Karas. . Viking, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-03529-8

The creators of Cinder-Elly and Sleepless Beauty here perkily up-end "The Little Mermaid": "On top she was a human,/ In fact, was kind of dishy./ Underneath it all, though,/ You might find something fishy." While swimming, the Mer-Princess, aka Highness, spies a surfer and immediately falls in love. Distracted by her song, Burt falls off his board and she pulls him to shore. When Highness bemoans her inability to stay on dry land because of her fishtail, a sly troll appears and offers to trade her the tail for two feet. She and Burt have a grand time together until the princess becomes homesick and the troll refuses to return her tail. But clever Burt comes up with a solution. Quips and comments from fish ("Highness, maybe you should go to a plastic sturgeon," they warn when the troll makes his offer), seagulls and clams supplement the sometimes strained rhy-ming verse. Painted on a grainy, woodlike ground, Karas's mixed-media pictures take Los Angeles as backdrop; a scene of the Hollywood hills is especially festive. Light colors and bubbly patterns create a confetti-like effect, well suited to the frothiness of this frolicsome retelling. Ages 3-8. (Sept.)