Off the Shelf: Mermaid Tales

A few weeks back, I shared illustrations from a lovely copy of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. Today, I’m so excited to share a little gem I found last year: Mermaid Tales from Around the World by Mary Pope Osborne and illustrated by Troy Howell.


This paperback published by Scholastic is a collection of “water maid” stories from around the world. In her introduction, Osborne marvels at how fiercely strong mermaid characters are across cultures. Howell tailors the illustrations for each story to the artistic style of the country of origin, resulting in some really awesome images.

Here’s the illustration for “The Mystery of Melusine,” a French tale. I love how fragments of the story are worked into the image via the floating strips of parchment scroll or whatever that is.


The next tale, “Menana of the Waterfall” is North American Indian. Her hands and arms are what make this image.


This one is is for the Greek myth “The Sea Nymph and the Cyclops.” I love how insanely huge and furious the cyclops is.


Here’s a really curious family portrait for the Irish story “The Enchanted Cap.”


Here’s the frowny face mermaid, “Nastasia of the Sea” from the Ukrainian tale.


I absolutely love the 2D-meets-3D effect and the chunky graphic prints in this next illustration, for the Nigerian story “The Fish Husband” where the mermaid is a dude.


Here’s the illustration from the dark and rather morbid English story “The Mermaid’s Revenge.”


I really like all the open space and the colors in this illustration for the Chinese tale “The Princess of the Tung Lake.”


This is one of my favorites. It’s for “The Sea Princess of Persia” an Iranian story about a childless king. The clouds knock me out, and I love how the sea prince is balanced on the tip of the wave.


Last but not least, there’s “The Little Mermaid,” which is, of course, Danish. I’m not so sure about this illustration, though. The little mermaid looks like a cross between Lolita and porn star.


Which one is your favorite?


One thought on “Off the Shelf: Mermaid Tales

  1. Pingback: ColLINKtion: The Little Mermaid | Book People Studio

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