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Mariana And The Merchild: A Folk Tale from Chile Hardcover – Mar 3 2000

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Pitcher and Morris (previously paired for The Time of the Lion) turn to Chilean folklore for this atmospheric story. After a storm, lonely, old Mariana discovers a baby enclosed in a crab shell that has washed up on the beach. The child is a merbaby, and her mother, a resplendent sea spirit ("...tall as a mast. Her hair flamed red and her skin shone as if polished by the sun with mother-of-pearl"). The mother asks Mariana to keep the child, just until the seas calm. Morris's style evokes both the solidity of indigenous art, with heavy, low-to-the-ground characters, and ethereal, fairy-tale illustration, as in the delicate colorations of the merbaby's red tail. Flowing watercolors picture an ocean both bountiful and violent, and lyrically import Pitcher's imagery of sea-wolves that crest upon turbulent waves. Closely framed compositions allow Mariana to dominate most spreads, subtly conveying her initial loneliness and later suggesting her joy in the red-haired merbaby--and her pain when she must surrender the child. Half-page and three-quarter-page illustrations face occasional textile-like borders, finely wrought spot art and narrow vignettes, creating a visual rhythm that mimics the ebb and flow of the sea. Matched with Pitcher's sparkling descriptions (e.g., Mariana's fire "spangles [the merchild's] tail with pink and vermilion"), the art conjures a folkloric world, where nature is no less mysterious than magic. All ages. (Mar..-- tail with pink and vermilion"), the art conjures a folkloric world, where nature is no less mysterious than magic. All ages. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-4-Old Mariana lives alone in her ramshackle hut on the beach. During the day, longing for companionship, she tries to befriend the village children who tease her behind her back. At night, she hides in her hut, afraid of the sea-wolves that come out to hunt when storms set in. One morning after a vicious storm, Mariana finds a large crab, which splits in two to reveal a Merbaby. Mariana wants to keep the child, and her wish is granted when the infant's mother, a Sea Spirit, asks the old woman to look after her "until the seas lie calm" and it is safe to take her home. As they watch Mariana and her charge laugh and play, the village children overcome their fears, and when the Merchild finally leaves, they comfort the grieving Mariana. At times the language sounds forced, making the rhythm choppy when read aloud. However, Morris's dramatic paintings, done in reds, blues, and greens, make the story come alive. The subtle details in the borders, the clothing designs, and the household interiors provide a sense of setting and time. The realistic portrayal of the people adds to the tale's magic. While not an essential purchase, libraries looking for Latino folktales or stories about merfolk would do well with this one.
Tali Balas, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A beautiful story! April 7 2007
By B. Soriano - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my three-year-old because her teacher's name is Mariana and hoped the book would be good. It did not disappoint. This is a beautiful and moving story about a lost merbaby bringing new life to a lonely old woman. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. My daughter enjoys this book, but Mama absolutely loves it. I hope that it will become a favorite of my daughter over the years.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful for sharing April 24 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Invite a little one onto your lap to share the lovely illustrations in this tale from Chile! The paintings are magical and perfectly complement a story that will appeal to young children who enjoy folk and fairy tales.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is a PRECIOUS book! April 9 2009
By K. Schneider - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We absolutely love this book. I have purchased many copies to give as gifts. The pictures are absolutely extraordinary. I highly recommend this book.
A rare beauty April 29 2013
By Jane Hunt Griggs - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Always been one of my favorite books for the entire family. Jackie Morris's illustrations portray such beauty and magic for all!
Lovely story and illustrations Oct. 26 2014
By H. Timmons - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Beautiful - this is one of my favorite books to read to my children.