Kate Pugsley‘s Mermaid Dreams (2019) is a sweet story about a young girl, Maya, who visits the beach with her family. When she asks her parents to play, they tell her they would like to relax instead and suggest she make a new friend. That’s easier said than done. Maya is too shy to approach one of the playing children. Instead she closes her eyes and imagines herself transformed into a mermaid and swimming freely under the ocean’s waves. In her fantasy, Maya meets many sea creatures as she follows inviting laughter that ends up belonging to a little mermaid just like her. Maya awakes from her fantasy when a child invites her to play in real life. She accepts with confidence.
The text expertly blurs the line between fantasy and reality through cheerful illustrations and thoughtful text. I love the diverse skin-tones and body types that permeate the pages. Warm and whimsical, Mermaid Dreams subtly and kindly explores childhood shyness and overcoming the challenge of making friends to be rewarded with fun in the sun!