Mermaids are really in right now

| November 10, 2011

…Also seals.

My younger brother, a college freshman in Brooklyn, volunteers for 826 Valencia, a young adult writing center in Park Slope. He recently participated in a Halloween event where kids 6-9 years old were asked to pen scary short stories.

“Twilight has ruined civilization,” he grumbled upon returning that afternoon. “These kids only want to write about three things: vampires, werewolves, and poop.” Apparently, Nate tried to convince his little students to consider ghosts, goblin, witches…they weren’t having it.

For those of you frustrated with what pointy-incisor Rob Pattinson and CGI Taylor Lautner have done to American culture (and beyond), I have good news. I happen to know someone who has a mole in the children’s book publishing market, and she has confirmed: vampires and werewolves are out. Mermaids and selkies are in.

There was hope for fallen angels, but they haven’t done as well as market projections, despite the popularity of Hush, Hush a NYT bestseller about a boy named Patch who has fallen from the heavens and wants to become human, a Nicholas Cage for a new generation. If you want to read Hugh Hush, despite negative reviews like “Oh, the humanity,” we have it in the collection.

If you’re ready to swap sparkle for sheen, here are some hot titles featuring nautical protagonists.
The Fins series, starting with Forgive My Fins.

Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Isn’t a mermaid already half human and half fish? How can one be half human and half mermaid? I guess we’ll have to read to find out!

The Ingo series, starting with Ingo

When the sea called Sapphy’s father, he vanished from her life. When the sea called to her brother, he started to disappear for hours. And now the sea is calling Sapphy and she feels it pulling more strongly than shes ever felt in her life.

Call her Ishmael.

The Emily Windsnap Series, staring with The Tail of Emily Windsnap

For as long as she can remember, twelve-year-old Emily Windsnap has lived on a boat. And, oddly enough, for just as long, her mother has seemed anxious to keep her away from the water. But when Mom finally agrees to let her take swimming lessons, Emily makes a startling discovery.

The Madly Series, starting with Madly & Wolfhardt

Madly is your average nearly-eighteen year old girl—for a mermaid princess, that is.

‘Nuff said.

If you want to stick with a classic, check out Hans Christian Anderson’s The Mermaid. A far cry from Disney’s version, in which the Prince falls in love with the mysterious mute Ariel (Women! If they’re talking they’re nagging, am I right fellas?), here the mermaid must watch her beloved prince marry another, knowing that she herself will die the following day. The 1837 tale, now in public domain, is free to read via Google Books.

Spending summers on the Maine coast where there was a seal to every rock, I’m more interested in selkies of Irish/Scottish folklore, seals that shed their skins to become humans. A new title in the genre is Selkie Girl, that Booklist called appropriately dark, moody, and satisfyingly old-fashioned.

Mermaids are supposed to be jerks, anyways.