Book reviews today, for fans of fairy-tales and The Greatest Showman…
One of our library staff in Keynsham has composed her Top 5 books on mermaids, all available to reserve Librarieswest once this service is available.
#1 The Mermaid by Christina Henry
This is a beautiful love story between a lonely fisherman and his catch of the day, a mermaid. In this story the mermaid is ageless and outlives her love. She realises that she will have to leave the sea cottage in which they made their home to escape the painful memories of her lost love and start a new life. She is persuaded to join BT Barnum’s travelling show, you may have heard of him as ‘The Greatest Showman’ and so the story unfolds. If you are a fan of the film, you’ll love this tale. Christina Henry has written several re-imagined tales: The Girl in Red, Lost Boy, Red Queen and Alice, all excellent, try them for yourself!
#2 Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
This is a thrilling Victorian mystery, set in the grime and underworld of London. It focuses on the Victorian obsession with collecting abnormal or new life forms and exhibiting them, in jars! Irish detective Bridie Devine investigates the abduction of a girl with extraordinary powers. She has to face her own childhood nemesis and work with a ghost as part of solving the riddle of the girl and her disappearance. This is a really intriguing read and you won’t want to put it down!
#2 The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill (YA +)
This is a re-imagined version of the Hans Andersen Fairy Tale, The Little Mermaid, reworked in a modern way. It’s full of twists and turns, like a mermaid’s tale! Gaia is a young mermaid who wishes to be free from her controlling father but is falling in love with a human. It’s not like the Disney version though, as it contains more adult themes. The role of the ‘Rusalka’ or evil sea witch and sea creatures I found interesting. A thrilling and, at times, quite sinister read which I loved!
#3 Seal Skin by Su Bristow
Fisherman Donald did wrong by a Selkie, a seal who can transform into a woman. He tries to make amends by keeping her on land to be his wife. It’s a refreshingly delicate tale with an unexpected ending. I don’t want to spoil the plot but Donald’s actions have consequences… The story is intricate and the characterisation of characters lovely, the conclusion moved me.
#4 Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
This beautiful picture book exudes joy and reinforces the fact that the love of colourful clothes and material is not just a fancy of little girls! One of the things that teaching primary children has taught me is never underestimate the pull of a pair of gold sparkly sling backs in the dressing up box, with all the children! This is a mesmerising book that celebrates individuality. The main character is Julian who is beguiled by a group of ladies and how colourful they are so he makes it his mission to express his inner mermaid and find just the right outfit for himself!
#5 The Singing Mermaid by Julia Donaldson
This echoes another book that I have just reviewed, see if you can guess which one? A mermaid gets tempted to live on land by wicked circus owner Sam Sly. The crowds love her and so do the other circus acts, but she hates living in a tank full of water and would rather be back in the sea. You’ll have to read it to find out how she gets on! A charming story from the ever sought after rhyming master Julia Donaldson. A perfect bedtime read or listening to on a journey.