Both Tony and Maude were born a little different. He has webbed fingers; she has two tails. The latter, at least, seems like a good thing at first. Double-tailed merfolk have a tendency to make history. Unfortunately, the extra speed and agility that allows them to do so also makes Maude unpopular with the other merchildren — she’s way too fast to be any fun for games and races. Tony, too, has trouble with the other kids, who tease him relentlessly.
Tony and Maude meet one another as fellow circus performers. Tony was turned over to the circus by his concerned and trusting parents, who hoped that the Ring Mistress was right when she told them Tony would be happier there. Maude was caught by a fisherman’s net, and sold to the circus for a mint. When neither act proves profitable, the Ring Mistress decides to recoup her losses by having the stage-frozen Tony train the despondent Maude. But Tony realises that he and Maude have a thing or two in common, and he devises a different plan entirely.
The Melancholic Mermaid is its own kind of different. There’s the story, which brings together imagined mermaid lore, bullying, show business, and adventure. There’s the format, which crosses picture book with chapter book. And there are the pictures, which are full of sea colours and personality and just…wonderful. Because of the length, the story would be a great choice for a more confident reader who still loves lots of pictures, or as a read-aloud for a mixed-age group. Make sure to read to the end – the epilogue is the best part!
Read several more reviews collected on the publisher’s website
Check out an interview with Kallie George and Abigail Halpin at Cynsations.