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CORAL by Molly Idle


by Molly Idle ; illustrated by Molly Idle

Pub Date: May 19th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-316-46571-7
Publisher: Little, Brown

Mermaids share a message.

Mermaids Coral, Filly, and Manta work together to create the reef they call their home. But when Coral hides in a secluded nook she hopes to keep for herself, she discovers the emptiness that can result from not sharing. Idle, creator of the much-loved Flora series, returns to the underwater world she created for Pearl (2018) with this clever metaphorical depiction of the parts of a flourishing reef: the coral that constructs the reef itself, the fish that feed there, and the sharks and rays that keep it balanced. But her gentle fable resonates beyond the environmental level. The mermaids’ conversation sounds like squabbling siblings: “You’ve ruined everything!” and “All you make is a mess!” With colored pencils, she’s created a glowing, pastel-hued underwater world inhabited by three mermaids (Coral’s pink, Manta’s blue, and Filly’s a brown-toned yellow). (In a particularly nice design touch, the watery landscape of the back-cover flap exactly meets the pattern of the endpaper.) Her mermaids don’t sparkle; they, too, almost glow, matching the tones of their environment, and they reject clichéd mermaid imagery, instead appearing more as armed, anthropomorphic fish than human women with fish tales. During the quarrel, both color and background fade away. Coral goes white with anger, reflecting the color of a distressed reef, before her color returns as they reconcile.

Words and pictures also cooperate to deliver a gentle but important lesson.

(Picture book. 3-7)