Hardcover, 32 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Kids Can Press
The Mermaid and the Shoe by K. G. Campbell tells the story of Minnow, one of Neptune’s fifty daughter. Having that many siblings is not easy to begin with but when each and every one of those siblings is remarkable in one way or another, things get tense pretty fast. I found that though this little picturebook is lighthearted in tone and execution, it deals with some very important things where growing up is concerned. Minnow’s journey to find for herself something that she is remarkable at, something that simultaneously sets her apart and lets her fit in is is fun to read out loud. The language used is simple enough that even younger children will be able to understand it without explanation.
I love that the picturebook places such importance on curiousity and adventuring. Too often, children’s books that deal with journeys tend to be cautionary in nature. In this case of this book, however, Minnow’s quest to satisfy her curiousity ends on a positive note and one that can be used to segue into a decision about a child’s own perception of his/her worth. This book will be invaluable to parents with more than one child of similar ages who compete for attention and who, while not explicitly stating so, may be insecure of their own worth in the family. For older readers, the book is a reaffirmation of the old adage: everyone is special. The primary narrative is simple, sweet and will hold up to multiple rereadings.
The art is beautiful. Campbell weaves the art and the text together so skillfully that I cannot imagine one without the other. The palette of colours used is soft and gentle and the art goes extremely well with the story being told. Minnow’s facial expressions and her her determination to find out what the shoe is are fully expressed as is her conflict with one of her sisters who is chosen as the antagonist of the piece.
I must also mention that I love the fact that Campbell chose a female to be the human in the picturebook. It would have been not just easy but expected that the human the mermaid meets be male (an unintended (or intended) allusion to “The Little Mermaid”) but the fact that Campbell had a little girl in the book made me like The Mermaid and the Shoe so much more.
I recommend this to everyone who likes excellent literature. Buy it for the child in your life or buy it for yourself. The book will make you feel happy. I can guarantee that!