Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story Of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way

Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story Of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way

Shana Corey
Illustrator:  Edwin Fotheringham 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Scholastic Press, 2009   ISBN: 978-0439698351

When Annette Kellerman was still very young, her legs developed a weakness and she had great difficulty walking. To help his daughter to get strong again, Annette’s father taught her how to swim, and he encouraged her to swim as much as she could. It wasn’t long before Annette was swimming very well, and soon she started to win races and break records.

Annette had grown up watching people dance in her parent’s home, and she had always wanted to be able to dance with grace herself. In the water, she found a way to do be “beautiful and graceful and fancy-free.” She “whirled and twirled. She dipped and danced and dived.” Annette had created something new – water ballet.

Annette was eager to share her love of swimming with others, and so she and her father left their home in Australia and traveled to London. The English were appalled at the idea of a girl swimmer performing in public. Annette decided that she needed to do something “drastic” to get them to pay attention to her, to get them to give her a chance. Annette had to “make waves.”

This delightful true story is both interesting and inspiring. Young readers will come to appreciate the fact that the Annette Kellerman’s world was very different from the one that that we live in today. There were many things that girls were not allowed to do, and it took the courage of  women like Annette to challenge the ‘rules’ that everyone lived by.

Throughout the book Shana Corey’s unique text is perfectly complimented by Edwin Fotheringham’s vintage looking illustrations. Readers will find more information about Annette in an author’s note at the back of the book.

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