Monday, March 15, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Mermaid Queen

Mermaid Queen. Shana Corey. Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. 2009. [April 2009]. Scholastic. 48 pages.

Annette Kellerman loved to make waves.

The full title of this one is Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way To Fame, Fortune & Swimsuit History. Picture book biographies can be tricky at times. But I think this one works well. It tells a vibrant story about a fascinating woman. A woman that most readers are probably unfamiliar with. (Have you heard of Annette Kellerman?! Would you have known who she was as a child?) As I said, the storytelling works in this biography. Because whether you've heard of her before or not, you come to care by the end! (Perhaps that should be, I came to care! Since I can't promise that you'll make the same connection with the book that I did. Reading is subjective after all.)

Annette's father taught her to swim to strengthen her legs. Her mother wanted her to do something artistic like be a dancer. So Annette began to work at swimming artistically. She felt free; she felt wonderful; she felt amazing in the water. She was fast. She was beautiful. But she was misunderstood by a society that had little use for women athletes. The very idea that a woman could be athletic was so novel, so foreign. That a woman would want to be athletic in the first place. The world of sports was no place for a woman after all! But Annette wasn't easily discouraged. And her story I think is interesting and significant.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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