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A Treasury of Mermaids: Mermaid Tales from…
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A Treasury of Mermaids: Mermaid Tales from Around the World

by Shirley Climo

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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A Treasury of Mermaids is a charming book of eight mermaid stories from around the world, each brief and illustrated and geared toward young readers. Though the writing is simple and brief, the stories themselves are vibrant and deal with a variety of themes and never give the impression of speaking down to the reader.

For that reason, A Treasury of Mermaids is not only a good book for children who are newly interested in mermaids, but adults that are looking for a good primer on the variety of mermaid legends.

I enjoyed Mrs. Fitzgerald the Merrow (from Ireland) and The Listening Ear (from Japan) the most, though each story has much in common (aside, of course, from dealing with mermaids). Most concern a mermaid and a human, and several involve a love story (whether a failure or a success, though usually a failure). The illustrations are pleasant to look at and usually a full page. They accompany the stories well and are full of detail and expression. ( )
  vombatiformes | Apr 25, 2014 |
Shirley Climo, whose thematic folktale collections include A Treasury of Princesses: Princess Tales from Around the World and Monkey Business: Stories from Around the World, here turns her attention to the world of underwater creatures, from the Irish merrow to the Japanese ningyo. Presenting eight tales from diverse cultures, she explores the 'hidden magic' to be found in the waters of the world, and celebrates the elusive creatures who hold so much fascination for their land-bound cousins. Selections include:

Mrs. Fitzgerald the Merrow, an Irish tale in which a young Dingle man, coming upon a beautiful merrow (or mermaid) by the seashore, captures her red cap, thereby preventing her from escaping back into the sea. A long and happy marriage follows, but - as is so often the case in this tale type - the captive sea-bride eventually stumbles upon her cap (carefully hidden by her husband), and sets out once more for her native element.

The Legend of Aymee and the Mermaid, a native Alaskan story in which the eponymous Aymee, worried about her village's low food stores, as winter approaches, spreads her nets in a quiet inlet where her people rarely fish, and catches something most unexpected. This Inuit tale of nuyaqpalik was taken from Lela Kiana Oman's Eskimo Legends.

Odysseus and the Sirens, a classical Greek myth taken from an episode in Homer's Odyssey, in which the hero Odysseus and his shipmates, on their homeward journey from the Trojan War, encounter some deadly sea sirens intent on luring them to their deaths. With their ears plugged by wax, in order to mute the sirens' songs, Odysseus' crew tie him to the mast of the ship, in order to prevent him from jumping overboard.

Hansi and the Nix, a Swiss folktale concerning a nix (sometimes known as a 'neck' in English) - a freshwater mermaid said to inhabit the lakes of Switzerland - and the cowherd whose yodeling enchants her. This story, which purports to explain how an entire town was relocated beneath the waters of Lake Zug, is atypical, in that it is the nix who is enchanted by the human's song, as opposed to the other way around.

And Then the Merman Laughed, an Icelandic tale in which a Norseman named Tor, newly settled in Iceland with his wife Gudrun, finds that none of his efforts - at farming or fishing - prosper, until he brings an injured merman home with him. The merman's laughter, when explained, offers Tor some insight into his dog, some weeds on his land, and his wife's character. This tale, taken from Jacqueline Simpson's Icelandic Folktales and Legends, is the origin of the Icelandic folk saying "and then the merman laughed," used in response to particularly foolish statements.

The Listening Ear, a Japanese story in which a young man named Jiro spares the life of Tamayori, the daughter of Rin Jin, the Dragon King of the ocean, and is rewarded with the magical "Listening Ear" as a consequence. This seemingly ordinary shell allows him to understand the speech of the birds, and he soon learns what has caused Osada - a local nobleman's daughter - to fall ill, and what can cure her, leading to an unexpectedly brilliant match for this younger son.

The Sea Princess and the Sea Witch, a tale from the Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland, which follows the story of a sea princess whose wicked stepmother turns her into a seal. Cursed to remain a seal, save for one day of the year, the princess encounters a fisherman on the island of Staffa (while in human form), where they reunite once a year. Although it does not have the same happy ending, this story reminded me of other tales about jealous stepmothers, from Snow White to The Children of Lir.

And finally, Pania of the Reef, a Maori tale from New Zealand, in which a beautiful mermaid falls in love with the warrior and chief's son, Kari-toki, and marries him in secret. Unfortunately, his desire to keep her on land, together with their young son, and to show his fellow villagers that he does indeed have a beautiful wife, leads to tragedy.

All in all, this was an engaging collection of tales, beautifully complemented by the illustrations of Jean and Mou-Sien Tseng. I do wish, just as I did with Climo's A Treasury of Princesses, that there were more illustrations, but the painting which were included were quite appealing. The tales themselves were fascinating, in their depiction of different types of sea being, and I appreciated the fact that source material was provided, at the rear. Recommended to young mermaid lovers (who might also want to check out May Pope Osborne's Mermaid Tales from Around the World), as well as to folklore enthusiasts in general! ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Apr 6, 2013 |
A collection of different mermaid tales from around the world, along with some lovely full page color illustrations that draw the eye, as well as some notes in the back of the book on how the different cultures represent and imagine mermaids. A lovely and romantic book for the classroom, could maybe even provoke a class art assignment on picking a mermaid or type of meremiad and drawing, painting, writing their own story about the mermaid or merman.
  erburr117 | Jun 6, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shirley Climoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Falkenstern, LisaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tseng, JeanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tseng, Mou-sienIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060238763, Hardcover)

Drawing on the folklore of diverse cultures, renowned author Shirley Climo presents a multifaceted view of merfolk, exploring the promises and perils of meeting those creatures. Accompanied by stunning paintings from the brushes of Jean and Mou-sien Tseng, the stories in this collection are woven together with insightful introductions comparing and contrasting the myths of many lands.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:32 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Beneath the sea, off the shore of Scotland, there waits a beautiful princess cursed to live her life as a seal, except for one night each year. In Japan, there lives a sea maiden who can change shape at will to become any underwater creature. And in Switzerland, in the Lake of Zug, there is a mermaid who falls so deeply in love with a human man that she will do anything to keep him beneath the water with her. Discover an underwater kingdom where these, and many other mermaids from around the world, are waiting to meet you. But be careful- not all mermaids can be trusted...… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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