Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Summary: Melody, the youngest daughter of the Sea King, has a beautiful singing voice and loves to go exploring. One day she discovers the world above the sea and sees a girl named Zion. When Melody starts to sing, Zion sees her, and the mermaid knows the two of them are meant to be friends. Desperate to find a way to be with her new friend, Melody goes to the Sea Witch, who gives her legs in exchange for her voice. Melody and Zion meet, but Zion is dismayed when she discovers her new friend can’t speak. Melody draws pictures in the sand to tell her what happened, and Zion says she should never have given up her voice. A disturbance in the sea alerts Melody to danger for her family, and she returns to the undersea kingdom in time to help defend it against the witch. When she sees the shell with her voice in it around the witch’s neck, she manages to get it back and to use her voice to defeat her enemy. Melody’s father realizes his daughter should be allowed to have adventures, so, even as a mermaid, she can visit with her new friend Zion. 48 pages; grades K-4.
Pros: Usually, the story of The Little Mermaid kind of bums me out, but I love this retelling with a friendship instead of a romance, and a celebration of being adventurous and using your voice. Add this to the cannon of beautiful fairy retellings at the hands of Jerry Pinkney.
Cons: This story is a longer than some of Pinkney’s other folktales, and may be a bit of a stretch for reading aloud to preschoolers.