Author: Robert D. San Souci
Artist: Brian Pinkney
Genre: Mermaids / Folktale / Fantasy / African American / Family
Year Published: 1992
Year Read: 2008
Publisher: Four Winds Press
Content Rating: Ages 6+ (Child Mistreatment)
“Sukey and the Mermaid” is an American folktale retold by Robet D. San Souci, along with beautiful illustrations from Brian Pinkney. This book won the Coretta Scott King Award and was also the first book that I have read that originated in South Carolina. This book is surely to be an instant treat for the entire family and is surely to be a favorite among American folktales.
Robert D. San Souci’s storytelling is magnificent as he narrates the story about a good-natured girl who finds a true friend in the mermaid. The storytelling is interesting because I have never heard a story come from South Carolina and this is definitely the first folktale that I have read that came from South Carolina. Another reason is that this story seems like to be a combination of “The Little Mermaid” and “Cinderella” as Sukey plays as an honest yet miserable girl who works hard to the bone and has a cruel step parent, in this case her step-pa and she finds a friend in a mermaid who lives in the sea. Brian Pinkney’s illustrations are vibrant and rough edged and they give the book a calm feel when Sukey goes to the sea and a mysterious feel, such as having Mister Jones always having his hat tilted to cover his eyes. The image that stood out from the rest of the images in the book was of the mermaid herself who has green and flourishing hair and a beautiful face to match. Seeing the mermaid just makes anyone who reads this book shows comfort for her as she is shown to be a reassuring and friendly character in this book.
“Sukey and the Mermaid” is a unique book about how true friendship can bring happiness to anyone and how dreams do come true if you believe in yourself. This book is certainly a special one that both adults and children will cherish because of its creative plot and because of its ingenious moral. I would recommend this book to children ages six years and older due to the book being considerably long and that might put off many young children who are not used to reading large books yet.
* 1993 Coretta Scott King Award for Illustrator Honor