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by Suzanne Diederen ; illustrated by Suzanne Diederen

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-60537-583-0
Publisher: Clavis

A young mermaid encounters different sea creatures in this rhyming, counting board book.

The book opens with a mother-and-daughter mermaid pair, both White-presenting, setting off on an adventure. After spotting two octopuses, curious Umi continues her discoveries solo, inviting readers to count (among other things) pearls, seahorses, and, at the end of the busy day, the stars visible in the sky. As the book progresses, the number of objects and animals increases from one to 10. The rhyming stanzas are basic, keeping a nice cadence, but there is also little surprising or creative within this familiar format. Diederen’s illustrations are the highlight, done in a pleasing and unusual palette of coral and salmon, set off with teal and even darker blues. These are a welcome change for readers well used to bright and bold neons in similar board books, though the low contrast suits this book to older toddlers. Umi looks young and charming in what looks like a full-body mermaid suit (as opposed to Mommy’s traditional shell bra and skin midriff), and the ocean’s creatures—even the often frightening angler fish—are equally darling and friendly. There’s one large plot hole, however: Where does Umi’s mother go, and why is Umi alone for most of the day? Readers might notice the flick of Mommy’s fin as she swims out of the frame, but there is never an explanation. Perhaps this is something lost in the uncredited translation from the original Dutch. Thank goodness little readers find a mother-daughter reunion of hugs and kisses at the end.

It’s got high visual appeal, but don’t count on the text to deliver.

(Board book. 2-3)