A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will can learn more about the ocean's ecosystem in this underwater fantasy. They can also compare this update to the classic Hans Christian Andersen story and the Disney movie adaptation.
As emphasized by one of the main characters, our voices have power and we should never give them up for anything. Also, true friendship is everlasting.
Positive Role Models
Female empowerment and the importance of friendship take center stage as themes in this rendition of the classic. The story is told through the lens of characters of color.
Violence & Scariness
The illustrations of an altercation between the Sea Witch and the Sea King may be a bit frightening for some young readers. The Sea which is red and has horns, sharp-looking fangs, and tentacles like an octopus.See creatures swimming near her have bared teeth and fangs, too.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Little Mermaid is totally reimagined in this modern version of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale. The all-Black cast is brought to life by Caldecott medalist Jerry Pinkney (The Lion & the Mouse) in a manner that redefines how we think of the main character, named Melody in this adaptation. In an author's note, Pinkney says, "as in the original, the mermaid chooses to give up her most precious gift and the key aspect of her identity -- her voice -- to pursue her restless curiosity," but this time the sacrifice is made for friendship, not romantic love. The wonderment of the sea, the importance of perseverance and curiosity, and exploration of self-identity are themes. The enchanting artwork is an experience in and of itself. The illustrations of an altercation between the scary-looking, tentacled red Sea Witch with fangs and Melody's dad, the Sea King, may be a bit frightening for some young readers.
Is It Any Good?
This rendering of the classic tale, set between the fantastical worlds of the sea and the shore, will resonate with audiences who crave more representation in fairy tales. It is refreshing to see a young Black girl serve as a role model based on her sense of adventure, inquisitiveness, and love for her friends and family. This new version of The Little Mermaid allows readers to think critically about who they are, and what's most important to them.
The characters are brought to life through Pinkey's delicate pencil-and-watercolor illustrations, and the many details tucked in the art will draw readers in. The characters' feelings are palpable and brilliantly portrayed in the story.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.