Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way to Fame, Fortune & Swimsuit History by Shana Corey

33604755Lynn: We live on the Lake Michigan shore where winter starts in October, hangs on through April and where feet and feet of snow pile up. Our summers may be short but they are glorious! So I often find myself shopping for a new bathing suit, staring horrified at pale wobbly parts of my anatomy that have been blissfully covered for months. It is at times like these that I think dark murderous thoughts at swim suit designers. I’ve just survived this annual rite so a tiny part of me thinks Annette Kellerman has a lot to answer for! I know however that on the first sunny beach day I’ll be very grateful to this courageous persistent woman for freeing me from the wool stockings, bloomers, corsets and bathing dresses of her time! Mermaid Queen (Scholastic, 2009) is an exuberant picture book biography about a woman who may be unfamiliar to many of us. From the first page that states,”Annette Kellerman loved to make waves,” we are introduced to a brave and energetic woman who took on the restrictive conventions of her time. She did design a swimsuit that provided women with the actual freedom of movement but more importantly she championed women’s rights to athletic opportunities. Edwin Fotheringham’s bold illustrations reflect Kellerman’s enthusiastic spirit and love of the water with graceful swoops, bright palette and a large scale that often sweeps across two pages. There is a sense of joy within this book that carries the reader through Annette’s many achievements including overcoming physical difficulties as a child. Don’t miss this terrific book that is guaranteed to make a splash with readers.

394px-annette_kellermanCindy: As much as I have been enjoying this dueling blog format, there are times, like now, where I loathe having to follow Lynn’s excellent reviews. I really have little to add. I know some of you are itching for us to disagree more in our reviews, and we’ll work on that, but my opinion is perfectly synchronized with hers on this one. I’m going to buy Mermaid Queen for my middle school picture book collections, too. It will make a great read-aloud for homerooms or Women’s History lessons with illustrations that will share well with large groups. One of my favorite spreads shows Kellerman attempting a swim across the English Channel. To keep her energy up, sandwiches are delivered to her in the water speared at the end of a stick like a marshmallow. This boating season, I’ll try not to cringe when I expose my cellulite, but instead toast my boating beverage to the bravery of Annette Kellerman!



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way to Fame, Fortune & Swimsuit History by Shana Corey"

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  1.' Judith Ridge says:

    Good lord! Annette Kellerman was an Aussie—and it took one of YOUR writers to come up with a biography of her for kids? Tsk tsk and shame on us.

  2. Well, maybe you Aussies missed an opportunity here but no hanging of heads needs to happen. The number of fabulous books coming from Australian authors is astonishing! Cindy and I always joke that there must be something in the water down there and after reading about Annette Kellerman I truly believe it 😉 –Lynn

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