Title: Can You Catch a Mermaid?
Author and Illustrator: Jane Ray
What it’s about (by Holly): This story is about Eliza and her father, who is a sailor. He is very nice to his daughter: he’s good and they have a caring relationship. Eliza is scared of normal kids. Her father always asks what she wants for dinner when he goes out to catch fish and she always replies ‘a mermaid’. One day Eliza finds a mermaid called Freya on the beach and they play with each other and Freya teaches Eliza beautiful stories from the sea. Freya can be on land as long as she keeps something from her home. One day she loses her mirror, which helps her return to her sea home, so Eliza tries to help her find it. But will Freya manage to return?
Holly’s review: The drawings are very flowing and give a washing feeling. They are beautiful. The brush strokes are washed in with colours. The eyes look different to how other people draw them – they really stand out. I liked the way this story gave a different way of saying how a mermaid might come onto land – she can come out on her own rather than under a curse like The Little Mermaid. It’s interesting to think that a mermaid might pop up on any day at any moment – it might be true! This story is nice because Jane Ray writes it in a way that is like poetry. And it explains how you might feel if you don’t have a friend and then how to treat a friend once you have one.
Sam’s review: I bought this book for Holly several years ago when she was interested in mermaids. It’s a book that just leaps off the shelf at you. The drawings are magnificent and the colours alive and inviting. I do love Jane Ray’s illustrations – they manage to be attractive to children without being childish. The story itself is based on Scottish myths about mermaids and this retelling is poetic and emotional. As Holly points out, it deals with all sorts of issues that are important to children – particularly making and keeping friends – but in a way that never lectures or talks down. And it’s good to see a story that talks about a close father-daughter relationship – traditionally books tend to concentrate on loving mums.
Link to Jane Ray’s site: http://www.janeray.com/