Friday, 8 March 2013

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week, Week Ending 8/3/2013 - "The Little Mermaid / La Sirenita" by Oriol Izquerdo

Our book of the week this week is something rather special, and not just because it's a dual language book - mainly because it is the absolute polar opposite of Disney's saccharin version of the Hans Christian Andersen "Little Mermaid" story.

After being firmly told off by The Strolling Mum for sounding a little bit too much like Buzz Lightyear in "Spanish Mode" as I read the story to Charlotte, I reverted to reading the English text rather than doing both.

The Little Mermaid grows up under the sea in a loving family environment, but at age 15 her sisters are allowed to go and explore the world as a rite of passage.

Sirenita, The Little Mermaid is the most beautiful mermaid of all, and can't wait to turn 15. Finally the day arrives, but the Little Mermaid is not fascinated by the wonders of the world, she is fascinated by the world of the surface dwellers. When a stricken ship breaks up on the rocks, The Little Mermaid saves a sailor prince, dragging his body to the beach so that he can be rescued.

From that day on, Sirenita is irrevocably changed by the experience, falling deeply in love with the Prince, pining away for him.

She is offered the chance to join the Prince on land by The Great Sea Witch, who trades a spell to turn Sirenita human in exchange for her beautiful singing voice. There is a catch, if she cannot make the prince fall in love with her she will die and be turned to sea foam.

The rest of the story is yours to discover. The main reason this made "Book of the Week" was again because of the electrifying effect it had on Charlotte. She's a girl who really loves her Disney Princesses - but when something more darkly tinged comes along that tells the original tale in a far more satisfying way, free of the fluff and cutesy characters that are stock-in-trade of any Disney re-treatments of classic stories like this, she is completely engrossed.

The other main reason we loved this so much is due in no small part to Max's artwork. Enigmatic and almost impossible to google for, the art is reminiscent of Herge's sparse but utterly brilliant clean lines - and is such a great fit for this book, almost lending it a woodcut look.

I've struggled to find out what famous book series Max contributed to, but if any readers know, I'd really love to see more of his work.

Charlotte's best bit: The rather sad fate of Sirenita. Awww.

Daddy's favourite bit: An utterly perfect retelling of a classic Hans Christian Andersen story, like tasting the purest Agave honey after wolfing down the refined sugar Disney version. Lovely.