FICTION

The Little Mermaid: A Pop-up Adaptation of the Classic Fairy Tale

adapt. by Robert Sabuda. illus. by adapter. 12p. S & S/Little Simon. 2013. Tr $29.99. ISBN 9781416960805.
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RedReviewStarGr 1–4—Illustrations and pop-ups that sparkle with shimmering light and graceful motion characterize the latest title adapted by a master bookmaker. Much abridged and gently updated, the text closely follows the original, often echoing Andersen's phrasings and similes while streamlining events to create an eloquent yet accessible retelling. The little mermaid's heartfelt longing for her human prince, her quiet courage, and her selfless sacrifice at story's end are poignantly depicted in both words and images. Outlined with heavy black lines that lend a stained-glass effect, the artwork is spectacular. Glowing green and coral hues emblazon a multitiered sculpture of the sea king's realm festooned with plants that seem to tremble in an invisible current. The prince's storm-tossed ship is presented with the bow jabbing out toward readers, 3-D masts and ropes askew, and roiling blue-black ocean waves curling all around; the sea witch's abode, "built from the bones of shipwrecked sailors," towers tall and menacing. The stately pacing of narrative and artwork allows children to linger over the pages and explore the depths of the tale's emotional complexity.—Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal
Sabuda graces Andersen's dark tale with enormous, elaborate pop-up illustrations. Each of five double-page spreads contains one large construction; sidebars open to additional pop-ups. The paper engineering is more remarkable for its intricacy and atmosphere-building than its role in the storytelling. Children familiar with Disney's version may be surprised at the tragedy in this adaptation, which stays close to Andersen's original.

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