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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Serena's Tales by Taylor Lukens, illustrated by Madison Hope-Hokulani Buffington, is a children's fantasy book about a mermaid named Serena, the youngest princess of King Ronan and Queen Venus of Dylana. Serena is known to be caring, kind, and adventurous. Her frequent underwater travels lead her and her best friend Coral, a seahorse, to some of the furthest and most remote reaches of the globe, traversing multiple oceans and bringing home all kinds of treasures. On this particular outing, Serena and Coral decide to go to the Blue Lagoon, where Coral finds a crystal figurine of two mer-people in an embrace and immediately brings it back to a jewelry store in Dylana to discover more about this special find.
Serena's Tales is a sweet story, and author Taylor Lukens does a good job of folding in some important concepts (ie: never assume something is unimportant), a sense of community, and female characters that are independent (Rose and Lily are business owners, and Serena is able to explore without restriction). These themes are all woven through the story naturally and it's wonderful and refreshing. While the story itself is delightful, the illustrations are the star of this book. Madison Hope-Hokulani Buffington is a wildly talented artist, depicting mer-people, sea life, and the ocean world as a whole with gorgeous, animation-quality drawn images and a brilliant palette of creamy pastels and soft jewel tones. The illustrations are able to convey emotion in a way that is rare for children's books. There's a standout scene with Rose and another mer-person in the Blue Lagoon that is extraordinary. I enjoyed Serena's Tale and believe others, both young and young at heart, will as well.