The Sea Monster: An Acorn Book

Scholastic. (Mermaid Days: Bk. 2). Sept. 2022. 64p. Tr $23.99. ISBN 9781338794687; pap. $4.99. ISBN 9781338794656.
K-Gr 2–Children who love the idea of living under the sea, especially when a mermaid and a kraken are some of the undersea denizens, will enjoy the setting and characters of this beginning reader book. Vera has a purple mermaid tail, and her best friend Beaker is an orange octopus from the waist down. These friends live in Tidal Grove along with two other friends and two adults, their teacher and librarian. This story, which is part of Acorn’s “Mermaid Days” series, has three short chapters. Text is contained in speech bubbles that match the color of the character’s body, and illustrations are bright and clean. Harmless adventures contain aspects of ordinary life, such as a trip to the tide pools, as well as fantasy, including two encounters with a legendary monster that has been sleeping and dreaming for 100 years. Characters are sweet and curious, though sometimes clueless; for example, Beaker drops some sunglasses he found on the tentacles of the kraken and thinks the soft, suction-covered surface is just squishy coral. Unfortunately, the stories are not overly engaging and the inclusion of animals from different habitats is somewhat random. Why have a dragonfly at the tide pools when dragonflies live near freshwater wetland habitats? Why is the librarian a frog when all the other characters are ocean dwellers? The final pages show how to draw a kraken and invite readers to write about meeting their own sea monster.
VERDICT Beginning readers will enjoy the undersea setting and characters.

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