Title: Mermaid Queen
Author: Shana Corey
Illustrator: Edwin Fotheringham
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Concepts: discrimination, innovation
Review: Professional swimmer Annette Kellerman could barely walk when she was young due to a disability that left her with uncomfortable steel braces on her legs. It was her parents' attempt to strengthen her legs through swimming that led to an intense love of the sport and the discovery that she could do it well. During the early 1900s, Annette went on to race competitively not only in her homeland Australia, but also in Europe and the U.S. Along the way she introduced the world to water ballet, more commonly known today as synchronized swimming.
During these swimming events Annette often had to improvise with her swimwear according to the social norms of the countries she visited. However, she was outraged with the bulky swim costumes that women in the U.S. had to wear, which included stockings, bloomers, dresses, caps, and even shoes. Annette defiantly wore one of her tight one-piece costumes at an event in Boston and was promptly arrested for indecency. Her advocacy for more practical women's swimwear and her introduction of an innovative one-piece design led to widespread use of the modern swimsuit.
Mermaid Queen offers an informative account of a successful female athlete who took risks in the water and in the public eye. Her innovations not only revolutionized women's swimwear, but also the way that people thought about female athleticism and the benefits of exercise. This unique book makes for an all-around satisfying read.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children