Mermaid Messages and a Mix-Up

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Dear Mermaid
Alan Durant and Vanessa Cabban
Walker Books pbk
If, like young Holly in this story, you discovered a mermaid’s purse on the beach what would you do? Give it back to the mermaid perhaps? That is what Holly decides is right and she writes a message in the sand.

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So begins a pen friend correspondence (using the mermaid’s purse as a dead letter box) and in the first letter the mermaid, Princess Kora, (daughter of the Mer King and Queen) mentions a missing key. Holly in return determines to find it and the hunt – as well as the pen-pal exchange – continues. Holly provides Kora with updates on her attempts to locate the key, asks questions about Kora’s undersea life and leaves her small gifts. Kora in return responds to the questions and provides details about her mer-life, the creatures around her and the forthcoming Mer Festival.
Can Holly locate the golden key (a key that the Mer Queen needs to open her jewellery box) in time to save her friend having to face her mother’s anger?
This magical story will appeal most strongly to those who enjoy the excitement of the letter exchange, relish small treasures and like dressing up. Vanessa Cabban’s colours are gorgeously dream-like

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and the pages sparkle with gently glowing marine objects

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and bubble with small blessings.

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The Fairytale Hairdresser and the Little Mermaid
Abie Longstaff and Lauren Beard
Picture Corgi
In addition to the customers who visit Kittie Lacey’s salon, she also does home visits on occasion. One of her regular clients is Coral, the little singing mermaid who tells Kittie of a special human she’d like to meet – Prince Marino – royal diving instructor. Enchanted by her wonderful singing voice, the prince is equally eager to find its owner; but will the two ever get together? Happily yes, for Kittie is on hand to help. To do so however involves getting the better of the wicked sea witch and her evil enchantment.

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This is the sixth in the Fairytale Hairdresser series and as always, there’s a happily ever after ending and it’s packed with fairy tale characters to join in the celebrations. Doubtless Kittie’s fans (and she has many )will lap this one up too.

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Under a Pig Tree
Margie Palatini and Chuck Groenink
Abrams Books
When is a fig not a fig? Why, when it’s a pig of course. At least that is what seems to be the crux of the matter in this enigmatic picture book subtitled ‘A History of the Noble Fruit. (A Mixed-Up Book) and a mixed up book, it certainly is and a funny one. First of all we are told that ‘Pigs were presented as “medals” to the winners of the first Olympics in 776BC.’  I googled this putting in pigs and figs and the only thing I could turn up was that sometimes figs (dried ones) were recommended as a dietary tip for Ancient Olympian athletes prior to competing. Pigs however were used as a sacrifice, each athlete going to the sanctuary of Zeus and sacrificing one to the god.
I decided not to bother with Google any longer but just to enjoy the on-going battle between the book’s author and her editor in this post-modern foray; not forgetting of course, the wonderfully quirky illustrations provided by Groenink who has clearly had enormous fun creating all manner of porcine characters including celebrities,

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in his mixed media illustrations that also include parodies of ancient Greek vases, those of the Chinese Ming Dynasty and the medieval Book of Hours.

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This is certainly NOT a book for everyone but I can see it appealing to those readers who enjoy something different from a straightforward narrative: something that tickles and teases the taste buds perhaps.

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