The picture book, Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way to Fame, Fortune, and Swimsuit History, by Shana Corey and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham is a wonderful story about Annette Kellerman, a very strong and determined woman. The very first line in the book sets the tone for the rest of the book:
"Annette Kellerman loved to make waves."
On this page, the illustrator, Fotheringham, shows Annette in a bathtub with water and waves splashing wildly out of the tub.
From this first page forward, the reader is guaranteed two things for each 2-page spread: 1) we will find out all the different ways Annette Kellerman "made waves" by learning about both her acccomplishments, as well as some of her failures, and 2) we will visually see the wave pattern on every spread, rather the waves are in the design of clothes, or in the sky, or in the background, or even in the illustrations of water itself. This "wave" theme that both author and illustrator continue is cleverly done, and is very appealing to the senses.
The fact that this is a book about a strong woman is even more reason to like it. Annette's accomplishments help define why she made "waves": overcoming what appears to be an early disability, becoming a strong swimmer, combining her swimming skills with the ballet she loved to watch, moving from Australia to England with her father, trying to swim the English Channel, earning the nickname the "Mermaid Queen", performing in front of royalty in a newly designed outfit considered scandalous at the time (a precursor to the bathing suit), traveling through Europe performing her water ballet, and eventually coming to the United States, where she first scandalized people who saw her in the suit she wore to the beach and performances.
The author, Shana Corey, gives the reader enough information to both educate and entertain during the course of the story. Then, for those readers who are intrigued enough to want a little more information about Annette Kellerman, Corey includes three extra pages at the end with more detailed information on Kellerman's life.
Everything about this picture book is appealing -- the front cover, the topic, the details, the illustrations, and the "wave" theme. Mermaid Queen is a must read!
Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular Story of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way to Fame, Fortune, and Swimsuit History is also one of the books nominated for a Cybils award in the category of nonfiction / informational picture book.