I saw it in a catalog. I saw it online. I was thinking it was a, “I probably should read this” book, but maybe not right away. Then my book dealer hooked me up with a sample copy of My Cousin’s Mermaid: A Story from Poland. It was now time to read (except I had to actually work and not have fun by reading. A drawback to getting your book fix sent to you at work).be
Anna Staniszewski took the legends, folklore and stories of Poland and brought them to life by showing them through the eyes of a child who is struggling to understand this new (to her) country. A country where her mother and aunt talk too fast, she makes mistakes with the language, and she and her cousin seem to have little in common. That is, until they share their love of stories. This takes the idea of, “Am I (fill in the blank) enough?” in a slightly different direction (I recently read a story about an Asian child who was “too Asian” for school and not enough at home, which is what we are used to. Yet, this feeling is universal). The girl of the story does not feel “Polish enough” until the universal language of story and history (you can see the statues, buildings and places that were the inspiration for the stories, or came about because of them) connects these “sister-cousins.”
Ewa Poklewska-Koziello’s illustrations are typical Barefoot Books publications. They show that things are not American or countries more commonly read about (France, England, etc.) but are “other” than what we are used to. The country of Poland is explored by showing the city the girls are in. They are whimsical, funky, colorful, and detailed to support the overall story. The colors are bright, maybe things are a little crowded, but not messy. They might not be for everyone, but they do fit My Cousin’s Mermaid. (Due September 2023).