First you wonder: Is she real? Then you realize she is. But do the people who come and see the “fish girl” in the show on the boardwalk believe it? Second, you wonder will she be able to escape? And finally, you realize Donna Jo Napoli and David Wiesner are both geniuses.
Napoli and Wiesner have created a coming-of-age tale with a tail. She is a real mermaid. The man who claims to be her father, has her in his ocean show and will do anything to keep her identity a secret. But when our mermaid friend learns about the outside world, the lies she has been told and what friendship is, she must take matters into her own hands and find a way to save herself.
I rarely, if at all, reread a book. Usually I enjoy it so much that I cannot imagine it getting better, or I dislike it so much I cannot imagine it getting better. (I am noticing e a theme here). But with Fish Girl, while it did not get better (it stayed the same strong story it was before) I did appreciate the illustrations more this time around.
This is Wiesner’s first dive into the graphic novel format. His signature style of illustrations are lush, bright, the right amount of shadows and light. The expressions are realistic and on point. Napoli’s text is the voice of a young girl (or in this case, mermaid). She is relatable. The theme of freedom and environment also come into play. Everything is a whale of a tail… tale.