HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. Jan. 2021. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062982247.
K-Gr 2–Deep in the ocean fantasy depths lives a mermaid. “Sweet, and a little bit salty,” Oona has grown up curious and brave from her earliest years as a treasure hunter of the rift where land breaks away and waves collide in strong ocean currents. Watery images highlight plants, ocean creatures, and her repurposed treasures with shades of filtered light while Oona swims, her Black Afro at its fullest and tail swishing in graceful arcs with her sea otter best friend. Challenging the illuminated eyes watching below, Oona has found something better than common “keys, coins, buttons, and bottles.” A sparkly crown rests amid lobster crates, rocks, and planks of sunken ships. Digital art reflects the fluid, dark depths of the deep ocean fissure and panicked faces of creatures caught in its grip, as the rift itself keeps watch over Oona’s futile effort to grab the ultimate treasure. “You can keep your dumb crown,” she shouts—“I quit!” With Oona’s break from her hunt, images focus on the little mermaid isolated in small vignettes, as she tries to regain her “spark.” A pair of found glasses becomes treasure-hunting goggles, and the scary rift is forgotten with the singing of friendly whales.
VERDICT A recommended first purchase for all libraries and useful for social emotional learning, this title celebrates independence, self-confidence, and bravery to try the new even after defeat as Oona becomes aware of the true treasure in her personal effort.

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