This graphic novel is about a fish girl (or mermaid) who lives in a tourist attraction aquarium, who has a tail, can’t walk and can’t speak. Neptune, the god of the sea, rules her underwater rule. ‘King Neptune’ benefits from Fish Girl’s occasional, mysterious appearance in the fish tank as he collects money from tourists on the possible existence and sometimes sightings of Fish Girl. When a local girl spots Fish Girl, they both question what it would be like to become friends. King Neptune’s manipulation and demands grow throughout the story, forcing Fish Girl to eventually consider life in a different place and a friendship with a human. When Fish Girl risks leaving her tank, she discovers she has legs, which lead her on an adventure that reveals a scrapbook, telling the true story of her existence and where she lives. Over time, she struggles with leaving the tank, as well as escaping the tyrant, King Neptune. When King Neptune discovers her friendship, which threatens his livelihood and loss of possible income from her ‘freak show’ appearances, a tsunami appears, freeing her from King Neptune’s grip and destroying the large fish tank, in which she lived.
This book moved from reality to fantasy and back again, drawing the reader between the real world and the ‘fish tank’ world, where Fish Girl lives. This is a new adventure for this first-time author as well as a new format for illustrating a book by a well-known author/illustrator. Just as Fish Girl seeks to move into ‘unfamiliar territory,’ so do this author/illustrator duo. The use of watercolours and line drawings work well as a medium for the watery world where Fish Girl lives.
Highly Recommended: Grades 4-9