Mermaid and Me

By Soosh

Illustrated by Soosh

“And from that day on, my classmates and I picked up any garbage we found on the shore so that Mermaid could return someday.”

Mermaid and Me tells the story of a girl who always felt different from her peers at school. Her only friend was an “underwater girl,” a mermaid that she met in the ocean (possibly representing children’s kinship with animals). The underwater girl and the aboveground girl spend their days together, bonding over their adventures and their love for the ocean. While the other children laugh at the protagonist for her love of mermaids, not believing in their existence, one day there was a big storm (perhaps an extreme weather event). The mermaid is found tangled in a net on the shore. Now the other children believe the aboveground girl and rally to help untangle the mermaid from plastic and trash. They clean the beach in an act of climate activism. The underwater girl is saved but she will no longer stay in this area because it is too dangerous (see habitat loss). After she leaves, the children become friends of the ocean. “[F]rom that day on, my classmates and I picked up any garbage we found on the shore so that Mermaid could return someday.” The last opening shows both girls—now mothers, each with a baby—meeting again years later. Their children meet and play. The return visit from the mermaid, and the way the other classmates take responsibility for keeping the beach clean for mermaids to live in the area offers hope that the next generation will be more mindful of the environment.

Created by Soosh, a New York Times bestselling author and artist, Mermaid and Me offers early grade audiences an adventure-packed introduction to Earth stewardship and the challenge of ocean pollution. Caring for nature is an abstract concept, but in this picturebook it is made concrete through friendship that allows both girls to grow together and learn from each other (see kinship with nature). When the group of children save the mermaid, they understand how important the health of the oceans is to all creatures that live in it. Picking up garbage becomes important because the children have seen how it almost killed the underwater girl (see youth climate activism). With watercolor used to highlight the beauty of the ocean, many scenes include both land and the ocean, suggesting how they need each other, much like the two young girls who come from two different worlds yet form a unique friendship. With its focus on caring, Mermaid and Me exemplifies ecofeminist imperative to nurture supportive relationships across the species lines. It shows that banding together as a community to solve problems is exactly the energy and focus we need to tackle the climate issues of today.

©2021 ClimateLit (Anna Jennerjohn

Publisher: Hatchette Book Group, 2020

Pages: 40

ISBN: 9780316426626

Audience: Little People (4-7), Sprouts (0-3)

Format: Picturebooks

Topics: Activism, Conservation, Earth Stewardship, Ecofeminism, Extreme Weather Events, Habitat Loss, Kinship with Animals, Marine Conservation, Marine Pollution, Oceans, Plastic Pollution, Pollution, Single-Use Plastic, Trash, Water Protectors, Youth Climate Activism