Okay, I confess to being on a New York roll here. I am stockpiling a few great recommendations for any teachers or families wanting to do some lessons on the Big Apple or prepare for a visit. Today’s choice, MERMAIDS ON PARADE, is from an author/illustrator whom I finally had the pleasure of meeting in person a couple of weeks ago.
I am looking forward to joining the parade in next summer (though, sorry Melanie, no way am I dressing up as a Mermaid! Jellyfish maybe?)
Written and illustrated by Melanie Hope Greenberg
Published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008
Themes: Mermaids, parades, Coney Island, New York, summer, beaches
Once a year when vacation starts, I march in a parade to celebrate the opening of the ocean during the summer solstice.
Written in the first person, the story follows a young girl’s first experience dressing up as a “Shy Mermaid coming out of her Shell”, and joining in the celebrated Coney Island summer parade. The little mermaid is enchanted by the colours, sounds, throb and heart of this bustling seafront parade. Surrounded by thousands of young and old, locals and strangers, all brightly dressed in Neptune, mermaid and sea creature costumes, she is having one of the most exciting day’s of her life, that is until it gets even more exciting at the end of the book! This is one memorable midsummer day for this little mermaid and the island.
Why I like this book:
Melanie uses gouache, pen and pencil and her illustrations vibrate with festive summer energy, color and exquisite detail of the Coney Island sea front and the celebration of the beginning of summer. I showed this to my lfriend, a New Yorker, and she pointed out the accuracy of detail, from the shop fronts, to the nearby subway and the in-costume plunge into the ocean of all the paraders! There’s a terrific two-page spread that provides a map of the Coney Island area, showing the parade route and all that this includes. Astroland, the Wonder Wheel, Nathan’s, the parachute drop, Keyspan Park etc. The illustrations of the people are also a great reflection of New York diversity.
One gets absorbed into the holiday spirit and little girls will love all the different mermaid costumes and be begging for their own and a chance to join in this annual artists’ parade. The language is very active, with juicy verbs and imagery. There’s a real bounce to the story.
I enjoy picture books that bring to life a local event. This would go well with Melissa Sweet’s Balloon’s over Broadway, as both really celebrate community in New York.
The author includes a super back page about the history of Coney Island, and the origins of their original Mardi Gras parade and then the Mermaid Parade.
A page is also included on How to Make a Mermaid Tail in 3 Easy Steps!
You can find out more about the annual parade here.
Melanie can be contacted about skype school visits on her website.
MERMAIDS ON PARADE has its own blog for young people.
An aside: Coney island suffered around $200,000 worth of damage during Hurricane Sandy last month. They, and many other New York and New jersey neighborhoods, continue to need our support. The Red Cross is still taking donations.
To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s, Perfect Picture Books. Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays badge in the right sidebar.