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MERMAID SCHOOL by Joanne Stewart Wetzel


by Joanne Stewart Wetzel ; illustrated by Julianna Swaney

Pub Date: July 17th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-399-55716-3
Publisher: Knopf

Mermaids experience their first day of school, and it’s much the same as readers’ own first days, with a few ocean twists.

Rhyming verses follow Molly, a mermaid with an upbeat, can-do attitude, as she heads off to Mermaid School. Outside, she finds a similarly fishtailed boy among the kelp. “ ‘Why are you hiding?’ I ask Squirt. / ‘There’s no one here I know.’ / ‘Well, we can fix that in a flash. / Let’s go and say hello.’ ” Miss Marina, the teacher, leads them in and shows them their cubbies, where they’ll put their “tailpacks” (they are worn just like backpacks, though). Then there’s counting seashells and making art with them, singing the “A-B-Seas,” music class (complete with trumpetfish and drum fish), recess, lunch (“clamburgers” and seaweed pie), circle time, storytime (a fantasy about tailless boys and girls), and the singing of the goodbye song. A page from the “Mermaid School Handbook” follows, emphasizing a few rules and noting some after-school activities. Swaney’s illustrations, seemingly watercolor, are full of small details that suit the underwater setting. Both boys and girls are called mermaids throughout, and all wear sleeveless tops. Though their faces are sweet, they are not overly expressive. Skin and hair color are diverse (Molly presents white); all the tails are a light green.

This may have readers wishing their own first days happened underwater.

(Picture book. 3-6)