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The Melancholic Mermaid
The Melancholic Mermaid
by Kallie George
Illustration by Abigail Halpin

Maude likes her two tails, until the other merchildren begin teasing her for being different. She doesn't think things can get worse. But then she is captured by a fisherman. Meanwhile, on land, Tony faces difficulties of his own. Born with webbed fingers, he too is an outcast. Hoping to find acceptance, he joins a circus, but the Ring Mistress is cruel and life there is unbearable . . . until the circus purchases the mermaid. Tony and Maude slowly become friends. Will they find a way to escape not only the terrible circus but also their own sorrows?

Age: 5 Year-olds | Title: The Melancholic Mermaid  |  Author: Kallie George  |  Publisher: Simply Read

Maude likes her two tails, until the other merchildren begin teasing her for being different. She doesn't think things can get worse. But then she is captured by a fisherman. Meanwhile, on land, Tony faces difficulties of his own. Born with webbed fingers, he too is an outcast. Hoping to find acceptance, he joins a circus, but the Ring Mistress is cruel and life there is unbearable . . . until the circus purchases the mermaid. Tony and Maude slowly become friends. Will they find a way to escape not only the terrible circus but also their own sorrows?

The Melancholic Mermaid is the innovative tale of two misfits learning to appreciate what makes them unique. The story is separated into three parts, like chapters, and an epilogue. Maude is a mermaid ostracized by her peers for having two tails. While crying alone one afternoon, she is caught by fishermen and sold to a circus. Meanwhile, Tony, a human boy with webbed fingers, is sent to work at the same circus.  Maud and Tony empathize with one another and work together to escape to a better life.  The delicately detailed illustrations are filled with the bright and varied colors of the sea. The images are bound to captivate your child and encourage them to spend time studying the book on their own.

The writing flows poetically with alliteration and new words (like shunned, engulfed, gawk, raucous, anemone, recoil, embark, and more!) which are bound to intrigue your child and encourage learning new vocabulary words. Take the time to define the new words and discuss how they might be used. You will be surprised how quickly your child picks them up and uses them in their everyday speech. The creativity of the story will lead to fun conversation with your child. Did they know that mermaids cry bubbles, but they also release bubbles from their mouth when they laugh? Were they surprised to learn that Maude spoke a sea language instead of English? What else does your child think mermaids may do differently than humans?

My five year-old niece Emily loved staring at the illustrations. She liked pointing out the differences between Maude and Ariel from The Little Mermaid Disney movie, and finally decided they must be from different oceans since Ariel speaks English and Maude doesn’t. And after much thought, she decided that she liked Maude much better becausee she was very brave and a really good friend.
 
--Audra

 

Author Kallie George’s story about a mermaid is a heartwarming tale that shows children how to be resourceful when faced with a challenge. Read the interview Audra Rundle did with Kallie and learn what inspired her to write about a topic that isn’t often discussed in children’s books.

Audra Rundle (AR): Melancholy is not a mood commonly covered in children's books; what inspired you to write about children feeling melancholy?

Kallie George (KG): Although melancholy might not be a common emotion discussed in children’s books, I think that a lot of children do feel melancholic and suffer from sadness that lasts more than just momentarily. I was one of those children—I went through a period of my life when I was sad and I didn’t know what to do about it. Everyone tried to help me, but ultimately I realized that I needed to help myself, too. Maude, my mermaid, goes through the same realization that she must draw upon her own strengths to help her overcome her melancholy.

 

AR: The illustrations for The Melancholic Mermaid are unique and gorgeous. How do they compare to the visions you had in your head while writing the story?

KG: I think the illustrations are better than the ones I had conjured in my head. I was SO worried about how an illustrator would depict a two-tailed mermaid. Abigail did it perfectly.

 

AR: Did you do any research on mermaid folklore when creating this story, or did you create your own?

KG: I did do a lot of research to create this story, and in particular a lot of mermaid research. I knew two-tailed mermaids existed in folklore and I wanted to find out more about their stories. I didn’t really use much of this research when creating my own myths about the two-tailed mermaid world, but I always like to know what is out there already. I also adore research in general.

 

AR: Do you plan to write any more books about Maude and Tony having adventures?

KG: I am not sure yet! I definitely left the story with Maude and Tony taking off of more adventures, and lots of kids have asked me about what happens next. Right now, however, I am too busy working on other tales about new characters. I may indeed come back to Maude and Tony, however. I’ve had a few kids write to me about what happened to Maude and Tony and I love their stories.

 

AR: If you were to meet Maude in real life, what would you say to her?

KG: I think I would want to thank her for allowing me to write about her!

 

AR: What is the primary message you would like readers to pull from The Melancholic Mermaid?

KG: One big message is that our differences are our strengths, and the other message is the one that mentioning before: that when you are sad a lot of people might help you, but ultimately you must help yourself too!

 

AR: What is your favorite reaction you've witnessed or heard about a child having to The Melancholic Mermaid?

KG: There are really too many moments to pick just one, but this week I came back from a trip for Raise-a-Reader, a fabulous program in BC which gives a book to every child. I visited four schools in Pentiction, presented to the kids about how I wrote the book and then every kid received a copy of my book, which I signed to them. It was one of the most beautiful things to see all these children so amazed that this was THEIR book that they could take home. They were all reading it and hugging it to their chests, and telling me so honestly how much they liked it. There were lots of funny moments, too.

On the last day, there was one little girl who had already begun reading my book. I came over to sign it to her, and she looked up at me and very solemnly and honestly said, "This is a very good story. Do you know who wrote it?" I guess she was daydreaming about mermaids while I was giving my presentation!

Kallie George is an author, editor, and speaker living near the sea in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has a Masters of Children's Literature from the University of British Columbia with a focus on folklore. More than anything, she loves picture books, fairy tales - both old and modern - and beautiful art. She also likes baking cookies. For more information on Kallie, visit www.kalliegeorge.com.
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