From the graphic novelist duo Metaphrog (John Chalmers and Sandra Marrs), comes a graphic interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Little Mermaid. With beautiful illustrations and language, this new book takes readers into a magical world of enchanting landscapes and magical beings. Underneath the detailed artwork lies the famous tale of a young mermaid who longs for love outside her world. However, reaching her goal comes with many hardships.

The fairy tale begins when, on her fifteenth birthday, a young mermaid is given the chance to explore the human world. She soon spies a ship with numerous people on board dancing, including a handsome prince. When the ship is torn up by a fierce storm, the mermaid saves the prince and falls in love with him. Her longing to become human and be with her prince brings her to the sea witch, who will give her legs in exchange for her voice. But if the prince does not fall in love with her and marries someone else, the little mermaid will turn into sea foam and live among the immortals forever. Unfortunately, this becomes her fate, which she willingly accepts in the end.

It is best to mention this is not Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid. There are no dancing crabs, hypnotized princes, or jokes about parenting adolescents. Andersen’s story is a tale of heartbreak and accepting one’s fate. Using these themes, Metaphrog has recreated a magical sad tale with amazing details and storytelling elements. The underwater world is filled with numerous sea life and illustrated using an oceanic color scheme of blues and greens, with dashes of pinks to bring out the mermaid’s clothing and floral accessories. In contrast, the human world is illustrated with purple, red, and gold tones to bring out the brightness and richness of the prince’s domain. The characters themselves resemble those found in a manga or anime, with their bright eyes, colored hair, and Asian-styled clothing. Their emotions are visible throughout their facial features, especially the mermaid’s. Her sadness and determination are key to the story, especially when she slowly realizes that her wish may have been the wrong choice for her. The panels flow well, bringing the characters’ actions and emotions together from scene to scene, along with story’s text and the characters’ dialogue. The artwork and text work together, bringing out the sadness of the little mermaid and her inquisitive nature.

Metaphrog’s The Little Mermaid is a great choice for readers who enjoy fairy tale reinterpretations, with its beautiful illustrations and emotional storytelling. Graphic novel readers will be drawn into this tale as well, for its artwork and story layout. Due to its somber tone, however, it is best to give this to readers who are in middle school or to those who are familiar with the original fairy tale.

The Little Mermaid
by Metaphrog, Hans Christian Andersen
ISBN: 9781629917399
Papercutz, 2017

  • Gloria

    | She/Her Children's Librarian, Elmont Memorial Library

    Gloria is a full-time children’s librarian at the Elmont Memorial Library in Long Island, New York where she runs a monthly STEAM program, a graphic novel book club, and storytime for preschoolers. During her free time, she is found reading anything and everything from the classics, to poetry, to the newest best seller. Her other interests include writing, online games, exploring new areas in her home state, and spending time with friends, family, and colleagues. She has also written articles and reviews for the website Cosplay, Comics, and Geek Culture in Libraries and on her personal Goodreads page.

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