The Very Short, Entirely True History of Mermaids

Penguin Workshop. Mar. 2020. 96p. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781524792756.
Gr 3-7–The second book in Laskow’s series of short histories of popular fantastic creatures examines mermaids. After a short etymology, she launches into a presentation of many ancient legends from all over the world, from the dangerous Sirens of ancient Greece to the gentle Yawkyawks of Australia. Laskow cites mermaid sightings by explorers and various religious teachings during medieval times. The book is arranged chronologically and presents tales of people interacting with mermaids in different parts of the world, including New York, London, and Copenhagen. “Ask a Biologist” sections provide scientific explanations and features on mermaid tails, hair, and food, as well as a description of mermaids in movies, logos, and a parade. Graphic novelist Yee’s whimsical, colorful illustrations add interest and greatly enhance the text. A short bibliography and multiple maps of mermaid sightings are included.
VERDICT An informative, fun presentation of mermaid legends, folklore, and history that will appeal to many middle grade readers. For general purchase, especially for readers who enjoyed Laskow’s earlier history of unicorns.

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