The Book That Made Me: Philip Reeve 16/10/19
The Little Mermaid
Delphine is a mermaid princess and lives with her sisters in their undersea kingdom. On her birthday, Delphine is allowed to swim to the surface and see the odd world above she usually only sees as shadows. When she glimpses a prince on board a grand ship, she falls in love.
Desperately in love, Delphine goes to the Sea Witch and asks her for a potion to turn her into a human so she may go ashore and be with the prince. The Sea Witch grants her wish, but at a high price, taking Delphine’s beautiful singing voice in return. Worse, when the princess’ fish tail changes into legs, every step she takes on land will feel like walking on knives.
Undeterred, Delphine seeks out the prince, knowing that the Sea Witch’s terrible bargain also means that if he falls in love with someone else, she will dissolve into sea foam. Yet when the worst happens, her sisters are there to help.
McCaughrean has written an alternative happy ending to Hans Christian Andersen’s tragic and bloody tale, so while this stunningly illustrated version is for the most part faithful, young readers and listeners won’t be too disturbed by Delphine’s story.