Mariana and the Merchild

Overview

Old Mariana longs for friendship, but she is feared by the village children and fearful of the hungry sea-wolves that hide in the sea-caves near her hut. When one day Mariana finds a Merchild inside a crab shell her whole life changes—but she knows that one day, when the sea is calm again, the Merchild’s mother will come to take her daughter back…

A memorable story of unconditional love, this poetic retelling...

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Overview

Old Mariana longs for friendship, but she is feared by the village children and fearful of the hungry sea-wolves that hide in the sea-caves near her hut. When one day Mariana finds a Merchild inside a crab shell her whole life changes—but she knows that one day, when the sea is calm again, the Merchild’s mother will come to take her daughter back…

A memorable story of unconditional love, this poetic retelling of a traditional South American folk tale beautifully conveys the joy that may come if you open your heart to what you cannot keep.

A childless old woman is given a merbaby to raise until the child can safely return to the sea.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Pitcher and Morris turn to Chilean folklore for this atmospheric story. . . . Morris's style evokes both the solidity of indigenous art, with heavy, low-to-the-ground characters, and ethereal, fairy-tale illustration, as in the delicate colorations of the merbaby's red tail. Flowing watercolors picture an ocean both bountiful and violent, and lyrically import Pitcher's imagery of sea-wolves that crest upon turbulent waves. Closely framed compositions allow Mariana to dominate most spreads, subtly conveying her initial loneliness and later suggesting her joy in the red-haired merbaby —and her pain when she must surrender the child.... Matched with Pitcher's sparkling descriptions, the art conjures a folkloric world where nature is no less mysterious than magic.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pitcher and Morris (previously paired for The Time of the Lion) turn to Chilean folklore for this atmospheric story. After a storm, lonely, old Mariana discovers a baby enclosed in a crab shell that has washed up on the beach. The child is a merbaby, and her mother, a resplendent sea spirit ("...tall as a mast. Her hair flamed red and her skin shone as if polished by the sun with mother-of-pearl"). The mother asks Mariana to keep the child, just until the seas calm. Morris's style evokes both the solidity of indigenous art, with heavy, low-to-the-ground characters, and ethereal, fairy-tale illustration, as in the delicate colorations of the merbaby's red tail. Flowing watercolors picture an ocean both bountiful and violent, and lyrically import Pitcher's imagery of sea-wolves that crest upon turbulent waves. Closely framed compositions allow Mariana to dominate most spreads, subtly conveying her initial loneliness and later suggesting her joy in the red-haired merbaby--and her pain when she must surrender the child. Half-page and three-quarter-page illustrations face occasional textile-like borders, finely wrought spot art and narrow vignettes, creating a visual rhythm that mimics the ebb and flow of the sea. Matched with Pitcher's sparkling descriptions (e.g., Mariana's fire "spangles [the merchild's] tail with pink and vermilion"), the art conjures a folkloric world, where nature is no less mysterious than magic. All ages. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Old Mariana lives alone by the sea she loves. But she fears the hungry sea wolves that come out in storms. Beachcombing after a bad blow, she finds a baby mermaid hidden in a crab shell. Her lonely heart loves the child at once. But the Wise Woman tells her that the child's mother has hidden her from the sea wolves and will return for her. Mariana happily agrees to care for her until it is safe. The mother comes every day to feed her (there is a discrete illustration of her nursing) and to teach her to swim. Even the village children who feared Mariana now come to play. When the day arrives for the Merchild to return to her mother, Mariana sadly gives her back, her life enriched by the gifts the child has brought and still brings to her life. The language of the tale is traditional, rich with descriptive images. Morris's watercolors add more realistic images--the sandy beach, pelicans, leaping dolphins, the faces of the characters. From the end papers with their driftwood, shells, and tawny sand, this is an exotic world combining myth with the mundane rhythms of a simple life. 2000, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Ages 6 to 9, $17.00. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Old Mariana lives alone in her ramshackle hut on the beach. During the day, longing for companionship, she tries to befriend the village children who tease her behind her back. At night, she hides in her hut, afraid of the sea-wolves that come out to hunt when storms set in. One morning after a vicious storm, Mariana finds a large crab, which splits in two to reveal a Merbaby. Mariana wants to keep the child, and her wish is granted when the infant's mother, a Sea Spirit, asks the old woman to look after her "until the seas lie calm" and it is safe to take her home. As they watch Mariana and her charge laugh and play, the village children overcome their fears, and when the Merchild finally leaves, they comfort the grieving Mariana. At times the language sounds forced, making the rhythm choppy when read aloud. However, Morris's dramatic paintings, done in reds, blues, and greens, make the story come alive. The subtle details in the borders, the clothing designs, and the household interiors provide a sense of setting and time. The realistic portrayal of the people adds to the tale's magic. While not an essential purchase, libraries looking for Latino folktales or stories about merfolk would do well with this one.-Tali Balas, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802852045
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 3/28/2000
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 701,260
  • Age range: 4 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.95 (w) x 8.59 (h) x 0.35 (d)

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