Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Mermaid and the Shoe - a book review

Quote of the day:  "A good book is like the precious lifeblood of a book spirit."       - John Milton

Title: The Mermaid and the Shoe
Author and Illustrator:  K. G. Campbell
Ages: 3-7

The illustrations in this book are hauntingly beautiful and add so much character and class to the text.  The underwater world of sea creatures and mermaids are always enchanting to both the young and old alike. This tale tells the story of mighty King Neptune and his 50 (yes 50) daughters.  Each of his lovely daughters has a special talent: Clio is a gifted gardener, Thetis, a fantastic fish trainer and Calypso has a singing voice like an angel.  They all are extremely remarkable, up until the very last one.   The youngest, little Minnow, struggles to find her place and purpose in her vast underwater world. She is unlike her sisters because she hasn't realized her potential and what she is capable of contributing to her family and her community. She is good at one thing and that is asking lots and lots of questions and trying to find the answers.

One day she encounters a very unusual and beautiful item floating in the sea near her.  Her curiosity gets the best of her and she grabs it, clings on to it and tries to discover what it is.   She asks her sisters what they think it may be but they do not know. She then ventures out to ask many sea creatures their opinion, but they do not know either.  She finally ends up on the sea surface....and I love this line the best..."she had arrived at the edge of the kingdom, where the bubbles burst and the above place began."    She feels she will never find out the answer and comes to the conclusion that she is useless after all.  Suddenly she is fortunate enough to witness a little girl run out of her house  and to the water. Minnow stays very still, like a stature and after quietly observing she finds out the exact answer she is looking for.  Happily she high-"tails" it back to her family and recounts her day's adventures.  They are amazed and mesmerized by her storytelling, especially her father, who scoops her up and and hugs her tightly. "My Minnow," he boasted to the entire kingdom, "is a daring explorer."  That is the confirmation she needs to know precisely what her calling is and she embraces her new role enthusiastically.

About the author:

Keith Gordon Campbell was born in a steamy, exotic place with wildebeest and other ungainly creatures. But he was promptly packed off to spend his tender years on a damp and salty island nation in the Far North, where wild winds rattle your windows and turn one’s umbrella inside out.
In the shadow of a looming black castle, Keith was educated in an old, turreted school with ghosts and secret passages and stuff. There he learned to love all things ghoulish, ghastly and rather gothic. He wasn’t one for chasing after balls or playing leapfrog; he preferred, even then, to find quiet corners where he could write peculiar stories and illustrate them with funny characters.
Later, he attended an even older university (though with less turrets) and graduated with a Masters in art history.That,it turned out, wasn’t a terribly useful trade (in fact, it’s not a trade at all), but somehow or other (he could never quite explain how) it turned him into an interior designer — in Hollywood of all the unexpected places!
But Keith never could stop thinking up stories and pictures to go with them. They kept piling up inside him, ’til he realized that if he didn’t get them out, he would almost certainly burst. He busied himself sending manuscripts to publishers and building a portfolio of artwork, until finally somebody noticed how hard he was working and decided to make him an author. Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters is the first book written and illustrated by Keith.

Book review rating:    8      

Read on and read always!  
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