cover image Zandi’s Song

Zandi’s Song

Zandile Ndhlovu, illus. by Katlego Keokgale. Amazon Crossing, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-66252-010-5

Ndhlovu urges appreciation for the ocean in this lengthy tale of a child turned mermaid. Young Zandi, portrayed with brown skin, feels drawn to water. Overcoming initial hesitation, she dips her feet into the ocean and immiediately feels like she belongs. Personified via a human-like figure with a flowing gown, the ocean offers gifts to ease Zandi’s swimming: glittery mermaid scales form, her Afro transforms into braids, and a beaded bracelet, “a reminder of your lineage,” is donned and ready to transport her home. The story next turns to one of global interspecies connection—after learning about the impact the waterway’s pollution has had on humans and sea life, Zandi has a profound encounter that leaves her committed to protecting the water and its creatures. The spongy marine hues and flowing lines of Keokgale’s digital renderings impart an enchanted oceanic vibe that mirrors the book’s empowering takeaway, which an author’s note links to Ndhlovu’s work as founder of the Black Mermaid Foundation, based in South Africa. Ages 6–8. (Mar.)