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Friday, August 5, 2016

Of Mermen, Mermaids, and Life

By Jan Pease

Is 1977 considered one of the golden years of television?  Shows that began in 1977 included The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, The Incredible Hulk, and The Man from Atlantis.  The only show of these four I haven’t seen on cable is The Man from Atlantis. What does this have to do with anything?  Well, I remember that show fondly for the immensity of the oceans and the idea that all kinds of new things were lurking in their depths. This show was like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, but with a hunky merman.  Disney took the idea of mermaids to an extreme level of cuteness in 1989, but I still missed “Mark,” who could breathe water and swim like a dolphin. 

Recently several young readers have asked me for books about mermaids.    There are series on HBO titled H2O: Just Add Water, and H2O: Mermaid Adventures, and Netflix has Mako Mermaids.  The book market has caught on to this trend, with series like Emily Windsnap, by Liz Kessler, Disney’s Mermaid Tales, and various picture books. 

Jennifer Donnelly has a series about mermaids that young adults will find intriguing.  Her underwater world is inhabited by mermen and mermaids that are definitely not cute.   Political intrigues, love interests, and strong friendships characterize this series.  We received the last book in the series, Sea Spell, first, but Deep Blue, Rogue Wave, and Dark Tide are all on order.   Ms. Donnelly calls her series “The WaterFire Saga” and it is aptly named. 

Adi Alsaid writes touchy-feely books (sorry, romance and friendship books) for young adults.  This is our first year to try his publisher, Harlequin Teen, and I’m still not sure about this genre.  They are definitely written for older young adults.   Mr. Alsaid’s newest book,  Never Always Sometimes  is a book that received varied reviews on amazon.com.   Most Amazon customers gave this book three or four stars, but one stated it was “a story that wasn't even worth telling.”  I liked this one, (it) “dragged on and on and on and on and no and on.”  I don’t know if the word “no” was a typo or was a deliberate statement.  Mr. Alsaid has a reputation for understanding the feelings experienced by teenagers, and since he was born in 1987, at 29 he isn’t far removed from his audience.    If you read some of our Harlequin Teen books, let me know what you think.

 Finally, Dog Diaries: Sparky caught my eye because of the beautiful Dalmatian dog on the cover.  Some of you may remember a huge Dalmatian I brought to the library a long time ago, named Jake.  All my dogs have bonded with me, but Jake adored me, pure and simple.  Dog Diaries: Sparky tells the story of a firehouse dog, Sparky, from her point of view. She experiences the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  This little book gives resources from the Internet on subjects like the history of Chicago and fires, Chow Chow dogs, and of course, Dalmatians.  These wonderful dogs have been over bred because of their popularity, and Kate Klimo makes this clear in her author’s notes at the end of the book.  They do make wonderful dogs, but need to be well trained and well exercised. 

Remember, we’re taking a little break from story hour after Paul Spring’s concert at 10:00 on August 13th.  All of the library’s programs will begin again September 6th.  Enjoy the rest of summer with a great book!