Serenade of Mermaids: Mermaid Tales from Around the Worldby Shirley Climo, Lisa Falkenstern
Beneath the sea, off the shore of Scotland, there waits a beautiful princess cursed to live her life as a seal, except for one night each year. In Japan there lives a sea maiden who can change shape at will to become any underwater creature. And in Switzerland, in the Lake of Zug, there is a mermaid who falls so deeply/b>/center>
Beneath the sea, off the shore of Scotland, there waits a beautiful princess cursed to live her life as a seal, except for one night each year. In Japan there lives a sea maiden who can change shape at will to become any underwater creature. And in Switzerland, in the Lake of Zug, there is a mermaid who falls so deeply in love with a human man that she will do anything to keep him beneath the water with her.
Discover an underwater kingdom where these, and many other mermaids from around the world, are waiting to meet you. But be carefulnot all mermaids can be trusted...
Read an Excerpt
Mrs. Fitzgerald the Merrow
Once mermaids swam in all the salty seas, as common as sardines. But unlike fish in a can, all mermaids aren't alike. Although most are young and beautiful, some comb golden locks while others have hair as green as sea grass or as dark as the midnight sea.
Mermaids come in different sizes, too. In Malaysia they tell of one so small, she slept in a clamshell. A Celtic account, written in A.D. 887, reported a mermaid who measured one hundred and sixty feet from head to tall and had ringers seven feet long. That was a whale of a lady!
Usually mermaids have fishtails, but some have legs instead. A few have legs and tails. A mermaid with legs-or one who keeps her tail hidden-looks like an ordinary girt. Only sharp eyes can spy the ducklike webs between her toes or ringers.
In British stories a mermaid is often recognized by the comb or mirror she holds in her hand. In Germany it's the hem of her apron that gives her away. if it's dripping wet, she's sure to be a mermaid.
An Irish mermaid, called a merrow,is known by the peaked red hat she wears. With it upon her head, the merrow can breathe underwater. But should she lose her hat, then that's a different story....
Early one morning, as the sun began to color the ocean blue, Dick Fitzgerald stood on the Dingle shore and stared out to sea. He was looking at nothing in particular when he chanced to glimpse something green perched upon a rock.
"Bless me!" said Dick, squinting. "Can it be a green seal?"
That deserved a closer look, so Dick took off his boots, rolled his trousers to his knees, and slipped andslid across the mossy rocks until he'd gotten near to the creature.
"Bless me twice over!" Dick exclaimed softly. For now he could see that it was not a seal at all but a girl combing seaweed from her long, green hair. She was a mermaid, he was certain, for she'd a bit of a tail and there was a little red hat beside her on the rock. "And a magical cap it is," whispered Dick, "so I'll just take it for safekeeping."
He snatched the hat and stuffed it into his pocket. The mermaid did not see him, for her back was to him. But when Dick's foot slipped, splashing into the water, she heard him.
Startled, the mermaid turned around. A corner of her hat peeped from Dick's pocket. "Oh! Oh! Oh!" she wailed, and tears spilled from her eyes.
Dick guessed why she was crying, but he was not about to hand over her magic hat until he saw what luck might come of it. He pulled a handkerchief from his other pocket instead. "Try this," he suggested.
The mermaid took it and blew her nose. "Man," she asked in a trembly voice, "are you going to eat me?"
"Eat you?" cried Dick. "I never! You've been listening to fish tales."
"Man," the mermaid said again, "if you'll not eat me, what will you do with me?"
"Whatever will I do with you?" he echoed, for he'd not really thought about that. He studied the mermaid from the top of her green head to her little webbed toes. She was a lovely lass, that was the truth, and he was lonely. And so he said, "I suppose I might marry you."
Now the mermaid studied Dick Fitzgerald.
He had a nice smileand curly black hair and was far handsomer than anymerman. "I suppose I might marry you, too," she agreed.
Dick took her hand to lead her up the path to his house, but the mermaid pulled away. "Wait!" she said, and bent to whisper into the sea. Her words spread out from the shore in ripples.
"Is it the salt water you're speaking to?" wondered Dick
"I'm telling my father not to wait breakfast," the mermaid replied.
"And who is your father?"
"To be sure, he's King of the Waves."
"That makes you a princess!" he cried. "And makes Dick Fitzgerald the luckiest man in Dingle!"
"Who's he?" asked the mermaid, looking around for another.
"He's me," Dick answered. "And when we're wed,you'll be Mrs. Fitzgerald."
"Mrs. Fitzgerald the Merrow," said she, trying it out on her tongue. "It does have a nice ring to it."
And so they were married, and Dick carried the newly named Mrs. Fitzgerald over the threshold into his house. While she was exclaiming over the pots and pans and feather pillows, he tucked her little red hat into a cubbyhole in the fireplace chimney and covered it with an old, torn fishing net. Now that he had met his merrow, he'd not chance losing her.
Mrs. Fitzgerald enjoyed playing house. She learned how to sew, although she always poked her ringer with the needle. She learned to brew a pot of tea and to make oat porridge, although she often scorched it. But when it came to frying a fish, the mermaid shuddered and said, "I will not cook one of the family!"
Some things Mrs. Fitzgerald could not or would not learn. She thought housecleaning was silly and kept crabs as pets i her washtub. She didn't care a tiddly-tot for money, either,and every time she shopped, she lost a few pence.A Serenade of Mermaids. Copyright © by Shirley Climo. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Shirley Climo's love of folklore began in her childhood and has provided the background for many of her children's books, such as The Korean Cinderella, Magic & Mischief: Tales from Cornwall, A Treasury of Princesses: Princess Tales from Around the World, A Treasury of Mermaids: Mermaid Tales from Around the World, and Someone Saw a Spider: Spider Facts and Folktales, an NCTE Teacher's Choice and Library of Congress Best Children's Book that was originally inspired by her research for Cobweb Christmas. Mrs. Climo and her husband live in Los Altos, California.
Lisa Falkenstern has worked as an illustrator for twenty years, since she graduated from Parsons School of Design. A Treasury of Mermaids is the first book she has illustrated for children. Ms. Falkenstern currently resides in New Jersey.
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