CM Archive
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Mezei, Kathy
Illustrated by Anne Stratford Vancouver, Cacanadadada Press, 1992. 32pp, paper, $5.95, ISBN 0-921870-18-6. CIP.

Kindergarten to Grade 4/Ages 5 to 9

Reviewed by Anna Santarossa

Volume 21 Number 1
1993 January

Cuthbert and the Merpeople is a story within a story. It starts off with Robin and her mother fishing in the sea. The mother mentions that instead of catching fish, they might catch Cuthbert. When Robin asks who Cuthbert is, the saga of Cuthbert and the Merpeople unfolds.

Cuthbert is a sea monster who leaves his home in Loch Ness and travels to Hornby Island just off Vancvouer Island. The home that Cuthbert finds happens to be the cave where a merfamily live. They are terrified of the sea monster. At first, they change their life-style to accommodate Cuthbert. (They hide whenever Cuthbert swims by and only resume their normal life-style when he sleeps.) But finally they decide that they must battle the sea monster to preserve their way of life. After careful planning, they march ahead.

As the battle ensues, they discover that Cuthbert is really a lonely sea monster who just wants to make friends with the merpeople. When Cuthbert declares that he will sleep on his side to avoid the earth-shaking snores that can be heard when he sleeps on his back, he is accepted by the merpeople. To celebrate, they have a party. Cuthbert is truly happy because his acceptance by the merpeople makes Hornby Island his home.

What better way to entertain young readers than with a story about a sea monster and mermaids? The fact that the sea monster happens to be the son of the infamous Nessie of Lock Ness adds further excitement to the story.

Readers will identify with Cuthbert. His arguments with his mother about being old enough to do what he wants, his excitement and fear about being alone in the cold, wide sea, and his yearning to be accepted in his new home are the universal themes of growing up.

Cuthbert and the Merpeople is a welcome addition to any collection.

Anna Santarossa is a teacher-librarian in Bolton, Ontario
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