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To Catch a Mermaid    by Suzanne Selfors order for
To Catch a Mermaid
by Suzanne Selfors
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

To Catch a Mermaid by Suzanne Selfors is one of those middle-reader novels that sucks you in immediately for the pure charm of it. An unbelievable fantasy tale on the surface, underneath it is a story about what it means to be a family.

Boom Broom is the only member of his family who will leave the house after his mother was swept away by a tornado. Because of this, he is the one who ends up doing the shopping for Halvor, the Broom's Viking-descendent cook and babysitter. On Friday the 13th, Boom thinks great things will happen - they do but not in the way he expects. A broken window leads him to miss the Kick the Ball Against the Wall championship between Boom and his bully neighbor. As a result of a lost bet on the match, Boom is left with only three dollars to buy the family's supper. On the dock, the fishermen tell him he can have anything from the reject bucket for free. Thinking he has picked out a seaweed-covered fat fish, he takes it home, only to discover that it is actually a merbaby. His lonely sister Myrtle wants to keep it and he gives in. However, raising a merbaby is more trouble than either of them bargained for, not to mention a health-risk to Myrtle.

While the premise of the story is unbelievable, the underlying theme is one to which many kids can relate. While no one may find a merbaby and then have to hide it from a bunch of nosy neighbors (not to mention Vikings), everyone at some point wishes their family was different. This is the root of Boom's problem. Combined with the adventures he has, it makes him an excellent protagonist in a story geared toward late elementary/early middle school readers. Selfors keeps the story moving and prevents the emotional moments from becoming sappy. She even leaves the ending open for a possible sequel with more adventures of Boom and Myrtle. To Catch a Mermaid is a cute and addicting story, one that kids will enjoy for many decades to come.

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