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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Princess Mermaid and the Missing Sea Shells is a fairy tale for children written by Michael J. DiPinto and illustrated by Bobbie Marsh. There once was a beautiful mermaid princess who loved to spread seashells over the beaches at night for visitors to find the next day. Her name was Princess Nicole. She was busily adding shells to a beach one foggy summer night when a horde of unruly Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish quietly floated alongside her. They were pirates, and their captain, Captain J. Lee Fish, snatched the bag of shells that she carried and ordered his crew to take her hostage. No one knew what had happened to the princess until seagulls found her empty shell bag on the sandy shore along with a ransom note -- Princess Nicole would only be released upon payment of all the kingdom’s sand dollars. The mermaids instantly sprang into action. They were determined to both get their princess back and keep their sand dollars. Would they be able to thwart the will of Captain J. Lee Fish and free Princess Nicole?
On his dedication page, DiPinto recounts how he would make up stories for his son and daughter, who not only wanted him to read a book at bedtime, but also demanded a story that he made up. Reading The Princess Mermaid and the Missing Sea Shells provides ample evidence of their wisdom in insisting on having their father utilize his storytelling skills. His plot is exciting and filled with twists and turns, and illustrator Bobbie Marsh’s brilliant and colorful artwork offers a mesmerizing look into that other world under the sea. The minute I saw the grumpy and mean looks on the faces of those man o’ war pirates, I knew I was in for a treat, but each page seemed to offer even more than its predecessor.
And while it is a fairy tale, the story is a marvelous introduction to marine biology for both children and the caregivers reading the story. The beach scenes had me wistfully wishing I were there on the beach, and the underwater scenes are brimming with all manner of fishes, sharks, whales and lush coral reefs. Each picture is worth framing and hanging on a child’s wall. I also loved the fact that the illustrations allowed me to consider what was going to happen on the next page -- this interactive feature will have kids getting even more involved in this compelling tale. The Princess Mermaid and the Missing Sea Shells is a maritime adventure everyone will get excited about -- it’s most highly recommended.