The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids - Ammi-Joan Paquette, Marie LeTourneau Who doesn’t like mermaids? All right. A lot of people don’t. But maybe they cherish the idea of tiny folk leading their small but eventful lives unbeknownst to our big, clumsy unobservant selves in our direct vicinity. Maybe they also used to speculate if Jill Barklem was right and one simply had to look for fragile whisps of smoke curling skywards among the brambles or blinks of candle-light flickering in the many folds of an ancient oak tree’s bark to find a well-to-do family of mice living in victorian style inside the trunk. I, for my part, desperately whished there was a Nils Karlsson-Däumling waiting inside a hole underneath my bed for a certain someone to donate her comfy dollhouse furniture to him, say “Killevipps", shrink temporarily to Thumbelina-size and join him to feast on a cookie crumb. And I would have welcomed any Borrower trying to nick stuff from my parents' messy household without hesitation.

Therefore this picture book featuring my favorite magical creatures as a seahorse-sized variation which evades the too loud observer piqued my interest as soon as I spotted the cover in the Netgalley picture book selection. I admit, I did not even read the description before requesting a review copy. If I had simply studied the title and the cover employing one or two of my precious brain cells more, I would have understood what The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids’ aim is (which it fulfills quite beautifully): To turn a seemingly boring and dull future stroll along the seashore into an adventure, a quest for hidden mermaids or - to be more precise - a hunt for traces of their games, their businesses, their daily life: You have found these shiny things. And you think they are just a seashell? Think again! You’re holding a mermaid’s surfboard in your hands. Look closer and hold you breath: Maybe its owner is still hiding behind that little rock over there ...
The illustrator used photographs of a boy and a girl and a sunny strip of beach and pasted drawings of round-bellied and spindly-armed, fully-clothed mermaids into them:
For Review "The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids"
The drawings are easily conceived as not being part of the photographs. They look cute and sassy, but not convincingly real to the adult me. They create no illusion of magic. I had to leaf a second time through my e-copy to feel the charm of the book, but I finally came to appreciate the message and also the uniqueness of the collage style. I guess I would always prefer a real story with characters who are introduced by their name and a distinguishable personality to a fauna-guide-style-feel-good-book that is suppose to trigger a child’s imagination by separate and anonymous scenes. And I am pretty sure my opinion would have been the same 30 years ago. But then I always had enough imagination. Activating something that is already running at full throttle seems to be a pretty silly endeavor anyway. But for any child who dreads being dragged across the dunes and sees only water and boring miles and miles of sand, the The Tiptoe Guide might indeed be the the perfect "eye-opener".

Thank you, Netgalley and Tanglewood Press for a chance to read and review The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids. I appreciated it very much.