Polacco, Patricia The Mermaid’s Purse. PICTURE BOOK. Putnam (Penguin), 2016. $18.
Polacco’s grandmother started a lending library in the late 1890’s in her small town. While the farmers were skeptical, the knowledge she had helped the entire community. When a tornado ripped through and leveled the family home and her library, the community rallied around her, building a new library and filling it with books.
I love to story of the library and teaching the farmers – especially the one who was hostile because he didn’t know how to read. However, the book opens telling how she was born in a caul, or birth membrane, called a “mermaid’s purse” by the midwife. If you google mermaid’s purse, however, it is only applied to marine animals, not to humans – this might be a regional, 1800’s usage that is now obsolete. (I would STRONGLY suggest that is you google mermaid’s purse DO NOT read the urban dictionary version – AVERT YOUR EYES). This is an audacious beginning for a story meant for young children. It will probably give some adult readers a little pause.
EL – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library Teacher.