Publishers WeeklyBateman (Leprechaun Gold) and Brewster (Bear and Mrs. Duck) have created a smoothly paced, engaging story of a kindly fisherman and the baby mermaid whom he finds among the fish in his net. While Tarron does backbreaking work on the boat of his greedy brother, Josh, he dreams of the day he might buy his own ship and sail away on exotic adventures. Fishing in treacherous waters, the brothers hear the strains of a mermaid's dangerous song as she attempts to lure them to certain destruction. Tarron covers his ears and steers their ship away from the rocky island but, once safe, Josh rebukes him for not capturing the mermaid and, thus, ensuring their fortune. Later, when the merbaby appears in their net, the brothers make plans to sell her for exhibition. Tarron comes to realize that he "could no more take this merchild onto land than he could throw a human child into the sea." While Josh sleeps, Tarron begins the dangerous journey back to the mermaid. Brewster's full-spread, finely detailed artwork features windblown characters and boats set starkly against washes of pale green, blue and dark aqua, a worthy backdrop for this mythical tale. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's LiteratureWhile fishing with his brother Josh, a hard taskmaster eager for profit, Tarron finds a merbaby in their net. Although it could bring them riches, Tarron feels he must return the baby to her family, despite the risk. To his surprise, he is richly rewarded, and can buy his own boat to sail where he wishes. Integrating naturalistic scenes of fish and fishing gear with some more mystical imaginings of the mermaids' world, all immersed in tints of aquamarine with watercolor and pencil, Brewster tells the visual tale gently with a happy ending. The mermaid and the baby on the jacket/cover seem as real as Tarron and Josh. 2001, Holiday House, $16.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 2-4-Bateman has written several wonderful tales to enrich storytellers' repertoires, but this latest effort sinks beneath the weight of its oddly distanced language and its labored message. Two fishermen are sailing dangerous waters in search of a catch that will make their fortunes. Tarron would rather travel than fish, but he submits to his greedy brother's will. One day they haul in a merbaby, which the grasping man proposes to sell or to display in a glass cage, charging admission. Tarron cannot stomach this idea and takes the baby to the merpeople, who reward him with treasure from the sea. The story, which yearns to be magical, lies limp in the matter-of-fact telling. It's all so blas that even Brewster's graceful pencil-and-watercolor illustrations cannot save it. Harve and Margot Zemach's A Penny a Look (Farrar, 1971) is a much livelier story with a similar theme.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsA gentle teaching story with lovely watercolors in every hue of aquamarine, opal, and sea foam. Tarron serves his older brother Josh, who sails only for the profit of fishing and does not see the magic and adventure of the sea. They encounter a mermaid, but Tarron keeps his scarf around his head is and is not seduced. When their nets pull in a merbaby in the next catch, Josh rejoices, thinking their fortune is made. But Tarron cannot bear the thought of the tiny green-eyed babe put on display for gain, so he takes a small boat and sneaks away to take her back. So astonished is the mermaid by Tarron's gesture that she calls him "Mer-friend," fills his boat with treasure, and returns him to his brother's ship. Tarron shares his goods with his brother and gets his own ship, gathering adventures and tales as he goes. The message of care and compassion, as well as the power of dreams-there's a wonderful image of Tarron with his own ship tangled in his hair, a visible vision-are played but not hammered, and the ships, merpeople, and fishy denizens are rendered with graceful energy. (Picture book. 5-9)
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