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The Little Mermaid

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In this captivating reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen's classic, Caldecott medalist and bestselling artist Jerry Pinkney conjures a poignant friendship story and an epic tale of redemption -- the definitive new version for our time. Melody, the littlest sea princess, is not content just to sing in the choir of mermaids like her sisters. She is an explorer who wonde In this captivating reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen's classic, Caldecott medalist and bestselling artist Jerry Pinkney conjures a poignant friendship story and an epic tale of redemption -- the definitive new version for our time. Melody, the littlest sea princess, is not content just to sing in the choir of mermaids like her sisters. She is an explorer who wonders about what lies above the water's surface . . . especially the young girl she has spied from a distance. To meet her requires a terrible sacrifice: she trades her beautiful voice for a potion that gives her legs, so that she may live on land instead. It seems like a dream come true at first. But when trouble stirs beneath the ocean, Melody faces another impossible choice -- stay with her friend, or reclaim her true identity and save her family. Legendary artist Jerry Pinkney's singular reinvention of this tale about love and sacrifice empowers young, twenty-first century girls with the strong message that "you should never give up your voice . . . for anyone."


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In this captivating reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen's classic, Caldecott medalist and bestselling artist Jerry Pinkney conjures a poignant friendship story and an epic tale of redemption -- the definitive new version for our time. Melody, the littlest sea princess, is not content just to sing in the choir of mermaids like her sisters. She is an explorer who wonde In this captivating reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen's classic, Caldecott medalist and bestselling artist Jerry Pinkney conjures a poignant friendship story and an epic tale of redemption -- the definitive new version for our time. Melody, the littlest sea princess, is not content just to sing in the choir of mermaids like her sisters. She is an explorer who wonders about what lies above the water's surface . . . especially the young girl she has spied from a distance. To meet her requires a terrible sacrifice: she trades her beautiful voice for a potion that gives her legs, so that she may live on land instead. It seems like a dream come true at first. But when trouble stirs beneath the ocean, Melody faces another impossible choice -- stay with her friend, or reclaim her true identity and save her family. Legendary artist Jerry Pinkney's singular reinvention of this tale about love and sacrifice empowers young, twenty-first century girls with the strong message that "you should never give up your voice . . . for anyone."

30 review for The Little Mermaid

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shari

    It has been ten years since Jerry Pinkney won a Caldecott medal. It's time for another one! There are so many good things about this book. First of all, the breath-taking, gorgeous illustrations! The illustrations transport the reader to the sea. The waves, the splashes, the deep... so captivating! The Little Mermaid is Black, like the star of the upcoming Disney's live action movie. I love retelling of the story. It is a child-friendly story. No semi-adult content. The mermaids are little girls It has been ten years since Jerry Pinkney won a Caldecott medal. It's time for another one! There are so many good things about this book. First of all, the breath-taking, gorgeous illustrations! The illustrations transport the reader to the sea. The waves, the splashes, the deep... so captivating! The Little Mermaid is Black, like the star of the upcoming Disney's live action movie. I love retelling of the story. It is a child-friendly story. No semi-adult content. The mermaids are little girls, no shell-c0vered cleavage. The mermaid doesn't give up her voice for a man. Best of all, the Little Mermaid rescues herself with courage, support of a friend, and determination. I would feel good reading this to children. Jerry knocked it out of the park with this one.

  2. 4 out of 5

    N

    I'm seeing another Caldecott Medal in Pinkney's future. I'm seeing another Caldecott Medal in Pinkney's future.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

    These illustrations took my breathe away. I loved this re-imagination focused on female friendship and finding one’s voice.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    This is not like the animated movie. It's much more beautiful. The characters all have brown skin. The sea is magical and captures the feel of the ocean. The story is different in very good ways. Instead of a romance, there is a friendship which is much more appropriate for children. I like how it shows it is important to not trade away your voice. This is not like the animated movie. It's much more beautiful. The characters all have brown skin. The sea is magical and captures the feel of the ocean. The story is different in very good ways. Instead of a romance, there is a friendship which is much more appropriate for children. I like how it shows it is important to not trade away your voice.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    By no means my favorite of Pinkey's illustrations, I found the scribbly effect sometimes muddled his gorgeous world and planned sweeping spreads. However, I very much like his turning the story from love at first sight to friendship and exploration, which feels so much more natural. And of course, I love that he changes the horrible punishment for curiosity to learning about the power of using your voice. By no means my favorite of Pinkey's illustrations, I found the scribbly effect sometimes muddled his gorgeous world and planned sweeping spreads. However, I very much like his turning the story from love at first sight to friendship and exploration, which feels so much more natural. And of course, I love that he changes the horrible punishment for curiosity to learning about the power of using your voice.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Abby Johnson

    How wonderful to see an African American Little Mermaid! This adaptation of the classic fairy tale has been designed for younger readers, replacing the romance with a friendship. I bought it for my four year old niece who loves the ocean.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joy Lane

    Lovely!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katie Reilley

    Gorgeous illustrations surround this reimagined fairy tale about friendship and finding one’s voice.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kris Patrick

    Could this be CALDECOTT NUMBER SEVEN for Jerry Pinkney ??? I'm counting honor books. Could this be CALDECOTT NUMBER SEVEN for Jerry Pinkney ??? I'm counting honor books.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Peacegal

    Lushly detailed reimagining of the classic fairy tale. This mermaid is younger than Disney's teenage Ariel, and her story ends on a happier note than Anderson's original fairy tale version. Pinkney's mermaid character, Melody, ventures onto land to seek friendship rather than the love of a prince, and she also takes a bolder and more active role in her story. Lushly detailed reimagining of the classic fairy tale. This mermaid is younger than Disney's teenage Ariel, and her story ends on a happier note than Anderson's original fairy tale version. Pinkney's mermaid character, Melody, ventures onto land to seek friendship rather than the love of a prince, and she also takes a bolder and more active role in her story.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Annamarie Carlson (she, her)

    Melody is the youngest and smallest mermaid princess. She loves sneaking away from her princess duties to explore the ocean floor and catch glimpses of the world above. When she finally breaks the surface one day, she discovers a girl standing on the beach waving at her. Melody longs to become friends, but she returns home saddened that she can never walk on the beach. After a tempting offer from the sea witch, Melody agrees to give up her voice for a chance at legs and making a new friend. But Melody is the youngest and smallest mermaid princess. She loves sneaking away from her princess duties to explore the ocean floor and catch glimpses of the world above. When she finally breaks the surface one day, she discovers a girl standing on the beach waving at her. Melody longs to become friends, but she returns home saddened that she can never walk on the beach. After a tempting offer from the sea witch, Melody agrees to give up her voice for a chance at legs and making a new friend. But after spending some time with her friend (and drawing out her story in the sand since she can't talk), Melody realizes that the sea witch has used Melody's voice to rise to power, and it's up to Melody to save the day. This is such a wonderful, amazing adaptation of The Little Mermaid story. In addition to Pinkney's gorgeous illustrations, the story takes on its own life while essentially eliminating the plot holes of the original tale and also giving Melody a sense of identity and purpose not attached to a love story. Melody wants to explore, and her curiosity leads to her deal, not a desire for love with a stranger she has never met. A beautiful, diverse adaptation that, for me, stands above the original.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Jerry Pinkney's illustrations don't always speak to me. But his storytelling is incredibly powerful, and in this adaptation of the Little Mermaid, he manages to take the traditional story and not just make it less gruesome as Disney did, but he makes it more powerful. The original story seemed to emphasize staying with the familiar: that daring to dream beyond your own place in the world was bound to end in tragedy. Disney made it into a love story: anything is possible and worthwhile in pursuit Jerry Pinkney's illustrations don't always speak to me. But his storytelling is incredibly powerful, and in this adaptation of the Little Mermaid, he manages to take the traditional story and not just make it less gruesome as Disney did, but he makes it more powerful. The original story seemed to emphasize staying with the familiar: that daring to dream beyond your own place in the world was bound to end in tragedy. Disney made it into a love story: anything is possible and worthwhile in pursuit of true love. But here, the Little Mermaid searches for a companion and a deeper understanding of the world beyond her kingdom. She sacrifices her voice in order to pursue her dream, but there is no betrayal or disappointment in the land world. There is only another choice, another sacrifice, and in the end, this Little Mermaid has discovered a whole new world as well as the power of her own voice.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Karen Gedeon

    The Little Mermaid written and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Pinkney supplies a new interpretation of Hans Christen Anderson’s classic tale explaining his changes and decisions for them in his note from the artist. Confidently striding between the classic version and the Disney version, Pinkney modernized the characters and storyline making all the characters people of color and replacing the traditional romance with a friendship which brings this beautifully written and illustrated picturebook The Little Mermaid written and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Pinkney supplies a new interpretation of Hans Christen Anderson’s classic tale explaining his changes and decisions for them in his note from the artist. Confidently striding between the classic version and the Disney version, Pinkney modernized the characters and storyline making all the characters people of color and replacing the traditional romance with a friendship which brings this beautifully written and illustrated picturebook into the realm of preschoolers to adults. Pinkney’s iconic illustrations, created with pencil and watercolor, bring the underwater world to life, each page a piece of art worthy of framing. Fans of the author or the story will not be disappointed. The book makes a wonderful addition to any home or school library and works wonderfully as an alternate fairy tale for many curriculums.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Brooke

    The original version of this story is too scary to read to young children. This is a welcome update. I still have not seen the Disney version, I hope this version is not polluted by Ariel when children read it. It's fun to read the original to older students, especially if they have seen the movie - they cannot believe the horror. At least this version still carries the theme of sacrificing something of the self for acceptance and is that okay? Is it only confidence that children need to avoid t The original version of this story is too scary to read to young children. This is a welcome update. I still have not seen the Disney version, I hope this version is not polluted by Ariel when children read it. It's fun to read the original to older students, especially if they have seen the movie - they cannot believe the horror. At least this version still carries the theme of sacrificing something of the self for acceptance and is that okay? Is it only confidence that children need to avoid this pitfall? As adults, what are we expecting of others to gain our acceptance? Their looks? Their accents? Their little peevish behaviors? Their identities?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    This didn't strike me as remarkable on the first read-through. It wasn't until I read it aloud that I realized its utter genius. Pinkney's retelling is subversive and yet comforting and he makes it very, very, very clear that when it comes to timeless stories, race (as it is associated with particular characters) is basically irrelevant. I read this to a group of elementary school students and asked them how it was different from the Disney version and while they mentioned details like the color This didn't strike me as remarkable on the first read-through. It wasn't until I read it aloud that I realized its utter genius. Pinkney's retelling is subversive and yet comforting and he makes it very, very, very clear that when it comes to timeless stories, race (as it is associated with particular characters) is basically irrelevant. I read this to a group of elementary school students and asked them how it was different from the Disney version and while they mentioned details like the color of Melody's hair being different from Melody's, not a single child (almost all of them White) mentioned her race.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    The Caldecott awards for children’s books are being announced in late January. A new version of The Little Mermaid, written and illustrated by Jerry Pinckney, is a likely contender. I’ve never cared for this fairytale because it seems a bit frightening for children under 7 years old. The new version by Pinckney is beautifully illustrated and has a slightly different plot than the traditional versions of The Little Mermaid. But there is danger at almost every turn of the page, so I would only rec The Caldecott awards for children’s books are being announced in late January. A new version of The Little Mermaid, written and illustrated by Jerry Pinckney, is a likely contender. I’ve never cared for this fairytale because it seems a bit frightening for children under 7 years old. The new version by Pinckney is beautifully illustrated and has a slightly different plot than the traditional versions of The Little Mermaid. But there is danger at almost every turn of the page, so I would only recommend it for children older than age 7.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Legendary children's illustrator Jerry Pinkney has crafted a beautiful, spellbinding rendition of The Little Mermaid, every picture worthy of being a wall print. Melody, the youngest of four mermaid sisters, wants to explore the human world, and even more than that, she wants a friend. The underwater art is particularly incredible, and I love the bizarre design of the frightening Sea Witch. An instant classic retelling! Legendary children's illustrator Jerry Pinkney has crafted a beautiful, spellbinding rendition of The Little Mermaid, every picture worthy of being a wall print. Melody, the youngest of four mermaid sisters, wants to explore the human world, and even more than that, she wants a friend. The underwater art is particularly incredible, and I love the bizarre design of the frightening Sea Witch. An instant classic retelling!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    This is a beautiful version of The Little Mermaid. I like that Pinkney made it in a modern setting to better connect with today's children. Also, switching the romance to a friendship gives more power to the decisions Melody (the mermaid) makes. Rather than focusing on love and lust, Melody looks for acceptance and companionship. Good for older kid storytimes but too long for younger kids unless done in a one-on-one setting This is a beautiful version of The Little Mermaid. I like that Pinkney made it in a modern setting to better connect with today's children. Also, switching the romance to a friendship gives more power to the decisions Melody (the mermaid) makes. Rather than focusing on love and lust, Melody looks for acceptance and companionship. Good for older kid storytimes but too long for younger kids unless done in a one-on-one setting

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Jerry Pinkney adapted The Little Mermaid for today's kids. Instead of true love, Melody sought out friendship with the land dwellers. In order to make it to land, an old sea witch takes her voice. On land, she makes a friend with Zion a little girl who loves butterflies. The sea witch uses Melody's voice to wage war with the merpeople so she is forced to go back into the sea to save her family. Jerry Pinkney adapted The Little Mermaid for today's kids. Instead of true love, Melody sought out friendship with the land dwellers. In order to make it to land, an old sea witch takes her voice. On land, she makes a friend with Zion a little girl who loves butterflies. The sea witch uses Melody's voice to wage war with the merpeople so she is forced to go back into the sea to save her family.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Maeve

    Pinkney's contemporary (and refreshing!) take on classic fairy tale: The Little Mermaid. In this adaptation, Melody is an adventurous mermaid who craves a best friend. She trades her voice for a pair of legs from the Sea Witch, and meets a friend (Zion) at the shore. They quickly become best friends, but soon Melody learns that the Sea Witch is attacking her family...she returns to the sea, steals back her voice and banishes the Sea Witch with her power. Pinkney's contemporary (and refreshing!) take on classic fairy tale: The Little Mermaid. In this adaptation, Melody is an adventurous mermaid who craves a best friend. She trades her voice for a pair of legs from the Sea Witch, and meets a friend (Zion) at the shore. They quickly become best friends, but soon Melody learns that the Sea Witch is attacking her family...she returns to the sea, steals back her voice and banishes the Sea Witch with her power.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tricia

    A wonderful retelling of a classic story with a more young audience in mind. A great author's note in the back. The Illustrations are beautiful, bright and tell their own story. Diverse characters, a focus on friendship instead of true love, a shortened timeframe and a plot focus on Melody finding her own voice and power. A wonderful retelling of a classic story with a more young audience in mind. A great author's note in the back. The Illustrations are beautiful, bright and tell their own story. Diverse characters, a focus on friendship instead of true love, a shortened timeframe and a plot focus on Melody finding her own voice and power.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    2020 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Read a retelling of a classic of the canon, fairytale, or myth by an author of color Gorgeously illustrated, opting to not shy away from some of the scarier parts of the non-Disney-fied "Little Mermaid" tale. Bonus points for having friendship--and not romantic love--drive the story. 2020 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Read a retelling of a classic of the canon, fairytale, or myth by an author of color Gorgeously illustrated, opting to not shy away from some of the scarier parts of the non-Disney-fied "Little Mermaid" tale. Bonus points for having friendship--and not romantic love--drive the story.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ellon

    A really great adaptation of the classic story that focuses on friendship instead of romance and has an emphasis on using your voice. The illustrations are beautiful, but I would have preferred them to be a little more crisp and less smudgy (though I grew to appreciate this style by the end). The author’s note at the end is great and really explains Pinkney’s inspiration and vision.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cara Byrne

    "'Melody,' Zion said quietly, 'you should have never given up your voice ... for anything." Oh, how I love this adaptation of _The Little Mermaid_. It presents an enticing story, strong Black girl characters, and a good message. This blows the Disney adaptation out of the water. A 2021 Caldecott contender. "'Melody,' Zion said quietly, 'you should have never given up your voice ... for anything." Oh, how I love this adaptation of _The Little Mermaid_. It presents an enticing story, strong Black girl characters, and a good message. This blows the Disney adaptation out of the water. A 2021 Caldecott contender.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Saritza

    “You should never give up your voice... for anything” A reimagining of the classic Hans Christen Andersen tale that focuses on the power of our voice, the need for friendship and companionship, and how every choice we make can have consequences is beautifully coupled with visual elements of nature and sea. Having the story feature a Black mermaid and her family, made it that much better.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    A beautiful retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen classic fairy tale. The illustrations are stunning and I especially liked the page turn going from the blues and green of the Little Mermaid’s underwater home to the bright sunshine of the world above. I enjoyed reading the author’s note detailing his decisions for making updates to the story.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Wow! This is a fantastic reinterpretation of the classic Little Mermaid tale, and I'm all for messages of children discovering their own voices and feeling empowered to use them! This is a lot more accessible than the original, I think, because you don't have all that extra business of romance and sacrifice. Love this! Wow! This is a fantastic reinterpretation of the classic Little Mermaid tale, and I'm all for messages of children discovering their own voices and feeling empowered to use them! This is a lot more accessible than the original, I think, because you don't have all that extra business of romance and sacrifice. Love this!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I like the change from the original story to one about longing for a friend and wanting to see more of the world, and it was refreshing to see not only a Black child as the mermaid but also to see a different setting. I found it hard to sometimes see all the elements in the artwork -- too much going on, not quite clearly drawn -- but overall Pinkney created another beautiful book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    A.

    I adore Jerry Pickney's books and this adaptation is fantastic. I love how he made the story about friendship and sacrifice rather than the mature theme of romance. This one was definitely youth aged appropriate. Kudos!! I adore Jerry Pickney's books and this adaptation is fantastic. I love how he made the story about friendship and sacrifice rather than the mature theme of romance. This one was definitely youth aged appropriate. Kudos!!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aimee

    Beautiful illustrations and good vocabulary for language development. I personally prefer the original story, but some of the changes Pinkney makes to the story could lead to interesting discussions.

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