Monday, April 21, 2014

The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

In The Classic Treasury of Hans Christian Andersen from Courage Books, Copyright 2002, there is a version of The Little Mermaid. All the stories in this collection have been retold by Margaret Clark.

The classic tales are accompanied by the artwork of Christian Birmingham, rendered in chalk pastel and pencil.

The illustrations are so delicate, soft and dreamy it seems as though the littlest mermaid will float right off the page. The views from under water help you see the world from her perspective.You begin to feel her longing, seeing a new and strange world, but being unable to touch it.

Margaret Clark's retelling gracefully recreates the story. I especially like how she sets the reader up to anticipate the little mermaid's first glimpse of the world above. She leads us through her five older sister's encounters with the human realm, but each of them conclude that while the human world was intriguing, their home is under the water. But this is not the case for the youngest princess. She sees a beautiful boy celebrating his 16th birthday aboard a glowing ship, festooned with fireworks, and is immediately captivated.

When a storm suddenly overtakes the ship, she decides to save him, and in this way she sets her heart on someone she cannot have.  Although her unrequited desire becomes her downfall, the littlest mermaid learns to love selflessly and she's given a second chance and a soul.

The Classic Treasury of Hans Christian Andersen from Courage Books is readily available from many booksellers for about $10.

Barnes & Noble


There is another stand alone version of The Little Mermaid illustrated by Christian Birmingham, and translated by Naomi Lewis, from Walker Books, copyright 2009.

This version is a bit more difficult to find in hardcover. Well, you can find it, but the price goes up. A lot.

The most affordable hardcover version I could find in North America was $128 on Amazon. The paperback is more accessible for about $30 from Amazon, if you have to have it in your picture book collection and you're on a budget.

We do have The Classic Treasury in our picture book collection already, but I think I would like to purchase the stand-alone from Walker Books as well. However, it will probably be the paperback version for this household.

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