Maya and her turtle dive below the surface, swimming down, down, down. At the bottom of the ocean, she discovers a secret underwater world! Maya slides off her turtle and realizes she can swim just like the other ocean dwellers. She’s a mermaid with a beautiful blue tail!
Maya loves beach days with her parents – the fresh salty air around her, the warm sand beneath her toes! Sand bucket in hand, she asks her parents to play with her, but they encourage her to explore on her own and perhaps make a new friend. Maya feels too shy to say hello and instead lays down on her turtle floaty while watching the other children have fun.
Listening to the ocean breeze, her eyes grow heavy, and she slips into an imaginary underwater world. As she swims alongside ocean creatures, she discovers that she is a mermaid! A friendly voice calls out “Hello”, and she begins searching until at last she spots a fellow mermaid, and a new friend. When Maya opens her eyes, she is back on her floaty and hears that familiar voice say, “Hi, I’m Pearl. Do you want to play with me?”
Pugsley has presented a fun, simple story about making friends and using your imagination to explore your world through play. While Maya enjoyed imagining she was a mermaid on her own, she found that the ocean creatures weren’t much fun to interact with and longed for someone to play with. At last, a more outspoken child asked Maya if she wanted to play, showing the reader how easy it can be to make friends if we only ask.
Pugsley’s use of watercolour for the illustrations is a beautiful addition to Maya’s dream-like fantasy world. Pugsley also cleverly uses varying depths of field to illustrate Maya’s feelings of loneliness and isolation in the beginning of the story compared to the end.
Mallory Dawson is the Community Engagement Librarian at Whitby Public Library in Whitby, Ontario.