Charlotte Watson Sherman and Geneva Bowers
Boyds Mills Press
Mermaid Kenzie as she prefers to be called, is a lover of everything sea-related. She creates sea scenes in her bedroom and goes onto the beach whenever she can. “Mermaids don’t clean up,” she insists when her Mama tells her to tidy her imaginary sea world away before venturing out. “Then this mermaid don’t go to the beach,” she retaliates. Mother and child visit the seashore by day and by night, digging for treasure, building sandcastles, venturing into echoing caves and rowing out on the ocean to look for marine wildlife.
Mermaid Kenzie loves to don her mermaid tail when they take their boat out and sometimes wearing her mask and snorkel, she dives beneath the waves playing with her seal pal named Cocoa. On one occasion, she’s horrified to discover the plastic bags causing pollution to the ocean’s ecosystem.
Mama tells her that during her own childhood, the ocean was alive with ‘squishy, squashy sea creatures’ – a veritable underwater zoo. Now is definitely time to revise her “Mermaids don’t clean up” rule. “This mermaid cleans up for my sea pals,” she announces.
Back on the shore she begins the task, urging friends to join her and so they do at the behest of “Mermaid Kenzie, Protector of the Deeps.”
Author Charlotte Watson Sherman’s narrative effectively mixes rich lyrical description – ‘Mist silver the water, / briny taste on our tongue. / Seaweed perfume the air. / Grey, the heron, drift past, / wing almost blocking the sun.’ – and dialogue. ending her story on an upbeat note that will surely inspire youngsters to take similar action for the ocean-protecting cause. Geneva Bowers digital illustrations rendered predominantly in blue, yellow and green hues present some vivid underwater scenes with a swimming Kenzie’s hair floating out behind her, adding to her ‘mermaid-ness’.