Mermaid Scales and the Town of Sand

Viz. Feb. 2023. 408p. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781974734658.
Gr 6 Up–After her mother abandons the family, Tokiko and her father move in with Tokiko’s grandmother in a cozy hamlet next to the ocean. The townsfolk say there are mermaids in the sea, and they even have a yearly festival to honor the protection they get from the creatures. Tokiko believes the townsfolk, especially as she was saved by a merman when she was four, swimming off the coast of this very town. As she befriends some of the children in her class, she discovers that there might be a darker side to the town’s folktales—something the adults are hiding from the children. Interwoven in this sparse tale of mystery and intrigue is a poignant depiction of Tokiko and her father dealing with grief, loss, and abandonment. Neither fully knows how to express their feelings to the other, so they struggle together in silence. Employing clean drawings and relatively few word bubbles, Komori nevertheless conveys the tone of sadness and growing hopefulness as Tokiko and her father adjust to their new lives in an odd town.
VERDICT Recommended for readers who appreciate pared down, powerful art and tear-jerking stories.

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