The Mermaid's Spell

get caught in the mermaid net

Literary mermaids -- mermaid books

literary mermaids -- mermaid books
For those who can't get enough mer-tails and mermaid tales in their daily lives, here is a list of books featuring mermaids to add to your book collection.

The mermaid trend has been riding high for years. There are plenty of mermaid fairy tale books available for children starting with the original version of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson. I recommend the version illustrated by Sulamith Wülfing for the magnificent art.

In addition, for those of a more scholarly inclination, there are books of analysis on the mermaid and her history intended for adult perusal.

These books can be difficult to find since many are out of print. Some great places to buy these things online include:

Mermaid books for children

A Book of Mermaids A Book of Mermaids by Ruth Manning-Sanders (E.P. Dutton & Company, 1968): Contains sixteen tales of mermaids and their adventures. The Mermaid and Other Sea Poems The Mermaid and Other Sea Poems by Sophie Windham (Scholastic, 1996): Beautifully illustrated collection of poems.
Celtic Fairy Tales Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs (Dover Publications, 1972): Contains "The Sea Maiden". Dictionary of British Folk-Tales Dictionary of British Folk-Tales by K. M. Briggs (University of Chicago Press, 1991): Contains "The Asrai" and "The Sea-Morgan's Baby" by Ruth L. Tongue.
Imagine You're a Mermaid Imagine You're a Mermaid by Meg Clibbon (Annick Press, 2003): A children's book about mermaids and their daily lives. La Sirena Del Desierto La Sirena Del Desierto (The Desert Mermaid) by Alberto Blanco (Children's Book Press, 1992): The desert mermaid sets out on an epic journey to find lost songs of her ancestors.
Mermaid Tales From Around the World Mermaid Tales From Around the World by Mary Pope Osborne (Scholastic, 1996): An excellent selection of ethnically diverse mermaid tales you may not have read before. The art is beautiful as well. Mermaids Mermaids by Beatrice Phillpotts (Ballantine Books, 1980): One of the sources for Mermaids: Nymphs of the Sea, this is an excellent guide to the mermaid throughout history and in art.
The Mermaid's Three Wisdoms The Mermaid's Three Wisdoms by Jane Yolen (Penguin Books, 1982): A young girl comes to realize the true meaning of the three wisdoms. Neptune Rising Neptune Rising by Jane Yolen (Putnam Publishing, 1981): Contains 19 selections of merfolk tales.
Sirena Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli (Scholastic Press, 1998): A mermaid fights against falling in love with a Greek soldier, though only the love of a human can grant her immortality. Sukey and the Mermaid Sukey and the Mermaid by Robert D. San Souci (Simon & Schuster, 1996): Based on an African-American folktale involving a mermaid, a poor girl's dream comes true as a result of love. Wonderfully illustrated.
The Little Mermaid The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson (Random House, 1997): The little mermaid sacrifices everything for love. I recommend the edition with Sulamith Wülfing's illustrations, as the illustrations of this edition alone are worth the price of the hardcover. Very beautiful and haunting especially the colour images. The endnotes for this edition indicate this to be slightly adapted from the original text, but it is in my view quite close to the original in both wording and intent. I much prefer this to the Disney version. Please note that the ending is different from the Disney film. A Treasury of Mermaids A Treasury of Mermaids: Mermaid Tales from Around the World by Shirley Climo (HarperCollins Children's Books, 1997): This book is a beautiful collection of mermaid lore. A catch of international mermaids, from a Japanese ningyo and a Swiss nix to an Irish merrow and an Alaskan nuquot swim through the pages of this elegant volume. Full colour.

Mermaid books for teens and adults

Aquamarine Aquamarine by Alice Hoffman (Scholastic, Inc., 2001): A novel in which a mermaid washed into a park pool by a storm falls in love with the pool's lifeguard, and wants nothing more than to have that love returned. Feminist Fairy Tales Feminist Fairy Tales by Barbara G. Walker (HarperCollins, 1996): Contains feminist retellings of many traditional fairy tales, including "The Little Mermaid" and "The Sea Witch".
The Mermaid Wife The Mermaid Wife by Rebecca Winters (Harlequin Books, 1994): A romance novel about a man on vacation who thought he saw a mermaid and obsesses about finding her (she turned out to be a marine biologist playing the part of a mermaid for a commercial).  

Mermaid psychological analysis books for adults

From Mouse to Mermaid From Mouse to Mermaid: the Politics of Film, Gender, and Culture by Elizabeth Bell, Lynda Haas, and Laura Sells (editors) (Indiana University Press, 1995): A collection of essays dissecting the hidden meanings of the Disney Empire and its films. Of particular interest is the chapter entitled "Where Do the Mermaids Stand?", which discusses and interprets The Little Mermaid within its Disney context. Sirens: Symbols of Seduction Sirens: Symbols of Seduction by Meri Lao Inner Traditions International LTD, 1997): This a psychological view of the origins of the mermaid archetype. I find it an excellent illustrated book showing how the line between siren (bird-woman) and mermaid (fish-woman) came to blur in the mythological record. There is also a section of mermaids and sirens in pop culture such as advertising, art, and signage, and a bibliography. It is a bit of a dry read for such a small text, but the accompanying illustrations are lovely.
Mermaids: Nymphs of the Sea Mermaids: Nymphs of the Sea by Theodore Gachot (HarperCollins, 1996): Beautiful coffee-table book with pop-ups and other ephemera featuring every aspect of the mermaid. I especially like the printed vellum pages. A visual treat! From the Beast to the Blonde From the Beast to the Blonde by Marina Warner (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1966): An analysis of fairy tales and folklore, including mermaids. This has a prominent place in my library.

Mermaid meditations

Contemplate your inner mermaid.

Mermaid Wisdom Mermaid Wisdom: Enrich Your Life with Insights from the Deep by Brenda Rosen (Godsfield Press, 2006): An excellent and insightful guide to getting in touch with one's inner mer-self. This includes lessons to learn from mermaid fairy-tales, water-based rituals, affirmations, and meditations.

Forgotten Dolls