cover image The Mermaid and the Shoe

The Mermaid and the Shoe

K.G. Campbell. Kids Can, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55453-771-6

Campbell, the illustrator of Kate DiCamillo’s Newbery Medal–winning Flora and Ulysses, crafts a mermaid story that shares a few superficial similarities with that of a certain redheaded Disney character from under the sea. Minnow doesn’t quite fit in with her sisters, and she’s full of questions, especially about a mysterious object (a red shoe) that drifts down from the world above. Minnow’s search for answers eventually takes her to the surface, where she spies a gangly, gap-toothed human girl, and all becomes clear: “Minnow finally knew exactly what the lovely things were for. Concealed within was another set of... hands.” Using watercolor and pencil crayon, Campbell paints Minnow and her 50 sisters as identical waifs, with delicate yellow-green tails, pale skin, paler hair, and a pair of tiny clamshells on their otherwise bare torsos. The result is an eerie emphasis on their inhumanity. Luckily, the artwork is also full of subtle humor—Campbell definitively answers the question of what a shrugging octopus looks like—and the story solidly delivers its message about the value of inquisitiveness, adventurousness, and storytelling. Ages 3–7. Agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Apr.)