Author/Illustrator: K. G. Campbell
Age Group: 3-6
Synopsis: On a journey of self-discovery, Minnow will travel far and wide to find the answers she’s been searching for.
The Low Down:
Whether we’re mermaids, unicorns, or of a more homo-sapien variety, the desire to find our special place in the world is an urge that is as important as it is necessary. When that moment of fulfillment finally descends it’s a feeling of indescribable success. Campbell describes this journey skillfully, illustrating not only through stunning pictures but also emotion.
The story begins by describing an underwater king and his 50 daughters. You read that right. Whew! Each of his daughters is amazing at something. Expect for Minnow. She asks questions that no one knows the answer to and is considered somewhat of a pest. One day, Minnow finds a red shoe. She, nor anyone else, can figure out what it’s for. Minnow, however, is determined and she sets off to find out. The physical journey, laced with self-discovery, is important and enlightening. She not only figures out what shoes are (if maybe in a somewhat skewed way), but also discovers the answers to all the other questions that she’s been asking for so long. And it turns out others are interested in her discoveries too. Really, Minnow discovers that her talents are quite comparable to that of a scientist. Ready to ask questions, search for answers, and share knowledge. An absolutely admirable set of skills.
Campbell strays from the typical depiction of mermaids in this book and instead channels an eerily beautiful style. With more greens and murky colors Campbell’s illustrations are still crisp and somewhat ethereal. The merfolk are a more accurate representation of what I imagine those who live far beneath the surface of the waves might look like with their pale features and penchant for seaweed accessories. In fact, it is the lack of bright colors that makes the red shoe even more shocking when it finally makes an appearance. Whether by fate or design (I’m betting that Campbell planned it all out) it adds not only an element of interest to the mermaids’ world but also the reader’s.
Overall, The Mermaid and the Shoe does not read or look like a typical mermaid story. It is a sip of cool water laced with elegance and an exquisite delicateness that balances the hard won courage and success delivered with the story. Bug is still a bit young to really appreciate this title but it is definitely one we’ll revisit in the future.
- Read this before going down to the sea to search for treasures.
I need more!
We’ve also read Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters which is sweet in and of itself but The Mermaid and the Shoe is still my favorite. Keep an eye on upcoming books by checking out: https://www.kgcampbell.com/books
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