The Mermaid and the Shoe

( 3 )


In this delightful picture book, Minnow seems to be the only one of King Neptune's fifty mermaid daughters who has no particular skill or accomplishments. That is, except for her persistence in asking many, many questions. "Why don't crabs have fins?" "Where do bubbles go?" "What lies beyond the kingdom?" But one day, as Minnow is drifting in the ocean all alone, a single red woman's shoe, "the loveliest thing she'd ever seen," floats toward her seemingly from out of nowhere. Never having seen a shoe before, ...
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In this delightful picture book, Minnow seems to be the only one of King Neptune's fifty mermaid daughters who has no particular skill or accomplishments. That is, except for her persistence in asking many, many questions. "Why don't crabs have fins?" "Where do bubbles go?" "What lies beyond the kingdom?" But one day, as Minnow is drifting in the ocean all alone, a single red woman's shoe, "the loveliest thing she'd ever seen," floats toward her seemingly from out of nowhere. Never having seen a shoe before, Willow becomes intrigued by what it might be. When no one in the kingdom can tell her, she sets off on a quest to find out and, along the way, uncovers answers to many of the things that have been vexing her, including what her true purpose is! Award-winning author and illustrator K. G. Campbell beautifully captures the watery world of his mermaids with soft blues and grays, long hair rippling in the currents and lots of bubbles. Young readers will chuckle knowingly at Minnow's misinterpretations of the world "at the edge of the kingdom, where bubbles burst and the above place began," as they delight in her discovery of what the shoe is used for. With the feel of a fairy tale, this is a fun and humorous story with a wonderful message appropriate for character education lessons about the value of believing in yourself and the power of perseverance when you are searching for answers to life's most important questions.
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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Sarah Harrison Smith
Campbell's story takes some of the classic elements of fairy tales and uses them in clever, unexpected ways…[her] illustrations, of shadowy blue undersea scenes lightened by pale drifting hair and waving strands of kelp, have an attractive, old-fashioned style that harks back to classic picture books of the early 20th century…Yet Campbell's sense of visual humor and Minnow's prince-free happy ending suit 2014 beautifully.
Publishers Weekly
Campbell, the illustrator of Kate DiCamillo’s Newbery Medal–winning Flora and Ulysses, crafts a mermaid story that shares a few superficial similarities with that of a certain redheaded Disney character from under the sea. Minnow doesn’t quite fit in with her sisters, and she’s full of questions, especially about a mysterious object (a red shoe) that drifts down from the world above. Minnow’s search for answers eventually takes her to the surface, where she spies a gangly, gap-toothed human girl, and all becomes clear: “Minnow finally knew exactly what the lovely things were for. Concealed within was another set of... hands.” Using watercolor and pencil crayon, Campbell paints Minnow and her 50 sisters as identical waifs, with delicate yellow-green tails, pale skin, paler hair, and a pair of tiny clamshells on their otherwise bare torsos. The result is an eerie emphasis on their inhumanity. Luckily, the artwork is also full of subtle humor—Campbell definitively answers the question of what a shrugging octopus looks like—and the story solidly delivers its message about the value of inquisitiveness, adventurousness, and storytelling. Ages 3–7. Agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—Created with watercolor and pencil crayon, this tale is unique in its style. One of Neptune's 50 daughters, Minnow doesn't think she is remarkable. In fact, she thinks she's truly useless, with no talent of her own. Her only companion is a little orange sea horse. Minnow is a curious mermaid, always asking questions that no one seems to understand. One day she finds a dainty little red shoe. It is only when she sets out on an adventure to learn about the purpose of shoes that she truly realizes that she is an explorer. The mermaid finds answers to her questions and rushes home to tell everyone of all that she has learned. While there is no sea witch to be found in this work that is reminiscent of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, Minnow's narcissistic sister Calypso is quite mean. Campbell's illustrations employ ample blues and grays to portray deep waters of the sea. The mermaids are all identical, with fair skin, white hair, and thin bodies. It is only when Minnow catches a glimpse of the human world that the pages become vibrant with hues of red, yellow, and orange. This book is suitable for independent reading as well as a read-aloud. Minnow's tale will remind readers that it is okay to ask questions and seek answers, to stand out and be unique.—H. Islam, Brooklyn Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-02-26
Unlike her talented older sisters, a little mermaid feels disappointingly ordinary until her curiosity unveils her special skills. Each of King Neptune's 50 mermaid daughters has a remarkable talent—except Minnow, who asks lots of questions, like why crabs don't have fins, where bubbles go and what lies beyond their underwater kingdom. Her sister Calypso dismissively chides her to "stop asking useless questions…and be remarkable." When Minnow discovers a mysterious object no one can identify, she's determined to find out what it is. Her relentless curiosity carries her above water, where Minnow sees a girl wearing a pair of shoes similar to the mysterious object. With her questions answered, Minnow triumphantly returns to her underwater family, heralded as a "daring explorer." Delicate, ethereal watercolor-and–colored-pencil illustrations rely on muted blue-gray washes accented with splashes of color to convey Neptune's underwater kingdom, with its flora and fauna. Kelp-enclosed cameo close-ups of Minnow and her sisters with white, gossamer hair and golden-scaled tails alternate with luminous double-page spreads featuring diminutive Minnow, carrying a scarlet shoe and fearlessly ascending from the dark underwater world into the brilliant sun and sky, where she watches a "landmaid" reveal the secret of shoes. Although this luminous tale of self-discovery has echoes of "The Little Mermaid," like Minnow, it sings its own strong song. (Picture book. 3-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554537716
  • Publisher: Kids Can Press, Limited
  • Publication date: 4/28/2014
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 98,941
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Lexile: AD540L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Keith Gordon Campbell was educated in an old, turreted school with ghosts and secret passages and stuff. There he learned to love all things ghoulish, ghastly and rather gothic. He wasn't one for chasing after balls or playing leapfrog; he preferred, even then, to find quiet corners where he could write peculiar stories and illustrate them with funny characters. Keith is now a full-time author/illustrator and lives in California.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 9, 2014

    This book is super cute. My girls, of course, loved it. I think

    This book is super cute. My girls, of course, loved it. I think they mostly liked the illustrations of the mermaids, and I don't blame them. The artwork is beautiful. I love the colors the artist used.

    The story is also very charming. It's about the youngest mermaid of a family of 50 girls. She feels like she doesn't have anything special to offer because she can't sing well and fish don't obey her. But then she discovers something (a shoe) that takes her on an adventure where she makes a huge discovery. I like the theme of being inquisitive and the message that you don't have to be just like everyone else in order to be special. In fact, it's the things that make you different that make you special.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetG

    I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.

    At first glance, I wasn't sure if I would like this book. The illustrations are a little dark, but that is a truer portrayal of the depths of the sea. They are also very soft and calming. Campbell captured the gentle motion of the water very well. 

    In reading the first few pages, it appears that this book is a re-telling of The Little Mermaid (think Disney classic here). As I read further, it became it's own story. Minnow doesn't appear to have any exceptional talents but she proves to be full of questions and quite daring and observant. 

    I ended up really enjoying this story. For preschool children, it would be wonderful to pair with objects that might not be familiar to them and ask if they know what it is and how it is used.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2014

    Very cute and a good moral story

    My kids really like this book. My husband even liked it after he read it to them for the first time. I especially like stories that have a meaning other than entertainment. I think this story is a good addition to anyones collection.

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