Old Mariana longs for friendship, but she is feared by the village children and fearful of the hungry sea-wolves that hide in the sea-caves near her hut. When one day Mariana finds a Merchild inside a crab shell her whole life changes--but she knows that one day, when the sea is calm again, the Merchild's mother will come to take her daughter back. . .
A memorable story of unconditional love, this poetic retelling of a traditional South American folk tale beautifully conveys the joy that may come if you open your heart to what you cannot keep.
AWARDS and RECOGNITIONS
Storytelling World, Honor Book (2001)
Bank Street College, Best Children's Books of the Year (2001)
Children's Book Council, Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
"A good choice for both story hours and lap sharing."
"Pitcher and Morris turn to Chilean folklore for this atmospheric story. . . Morris's style evokes both the solidity of indigenous art, with heavy, low-to-the-ground characters, and ethereal, fairy-tale illustration, as in the delicate colorations of the merbaby's red tail. Flowing watercolors picture an ocean both bountiful and violent, and lyrically import Pitcher's imagery of sea-wolves that crest upon turbulent waves. Closely framed compositions allow Mariana to dominate most spreads, subtly conveying her initial loneliness and later suggesting her joy in the red-haired merbaby — and her pain when she must surrender the child. . . . Matched with Pitcher's sparkling descriptions, the art conjures a folkloric world where nature is no less mysterious than magic."
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A resonant, evocative tale about a lonely woman and the child of the sea who becomes her dearest companion. . . . Conveyed in the emotionally rich telling are the rhythm of waves, filial devotion, the loving care of children, and the knowledge of beasts. The beautiful illustrations are full of the laps and curves of the ocean, the brilliant colors of sea and sky, and the gorgeous reds and dusky browns of fabric, interiors, skin tones, and shells."