Happily, Ever After, The Little Mermaid is a retold story. It’s about Ariel, the little mermaid, who longed to see the world above. In this story Ariel is 14 going on 15. It could segue to open-up discussion about stereotypes and relationships, providing it’s compared with real-life expectations.
Author Alex Field, has included the familiar love story tropes: she meets prince, she bargains with Sea Witch, she’s still unable to communicate with prince, her father the Sea King persuades Sea Witch to return Ariel’s voice, they live happily ever after. This appears simplistic for younger readers and unrealistic for older readers. Field’s book could be used for comparison with other contemporary stories. It could potentially guide students to make informed decisions about peer pressure and adolescence when balanced with non-fairytale books.
Although its structure is a little disjointed, the story starts with the reader meeting Ariel and her sisters in their peaceful ocean home, where it infers that Ariel’s 15-year-old sisters, sitting on the rocks, could be beguiling *sirens, ‘…sang to ships. Humans had never heard such sweet voices.’ In the ensuing scenes, Ariel explored the world above.
Illustrator Owen Swan lures Ariel towards a mesmerising blue night sky with cascading fireworks reflected on the ocean surface. As she gazes up, she can’t take her eyes off the prince on-board The Tall Ship, signalling her blossoming of age and first encounter with the outside world. Her maturing is revealed in the following single page layouts with stark white backgrounds, far from the first three double-page spread of tranquil subdued sea greens.
Swan’s interpretation of Ariel’s safe solitary world below was breathtaking with its coral towers tinged red-pinks from the sun setting above, along with Ariel’s human encounter with an iridescent-blue ocean scene. However, the story changes to excessive use of white space and sharper close-up images of characters, and like the text, its tone becomes direct and to the point.
Children will enjoy this mermaid’s tale, and more so its merit is as a compare and contrast for older students.
* in Greek Mythology, Sirens sang, on the rocks, luring men to their death.
Happily, Ever After, The Little Mermaid is available from publisher New Frontier Publishing and good bookstores.
Happily Ever After: The Little Mermaid by Alex Field (pen name for Sophia Whitfield) illustrated by Owen Swan.