Teens' Book of the Month: The Little Mermaid
Book: Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, adapted by Metaphrog
Age Category: 12+
In 2015, we featured a compelling retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Red Shoes from graphic novel duo Metaphrog, so we were thrilled to find out that they were releasing another adaptation of a well-loved Hans Christian Andersen story: The Little Mermaid.
This retelling breathes new life into the familiar tale of a young mermaid who longs to experience the human world and the dangerous pact she makes with the Sea Witch to make her dream a reality. Each stage in the mermaid’s story is expressed through a slightly different colour palette, creating a vivid visual journey to accompany the words of the story.
Metaphrog’s retelling is not an idealised version in the style of the Disney film. Instead, it balances perfectly the beautiful and haunting qualities of the original tale to create a truly enchanting read.
We have 5 copies of The Little Mermaid to be won! To be in with a chance of winning one, just answer this question:
Name another fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen
Send your answer to Sarah Mallon at firstname.lastname@example.org. The competition closes on Friday 28 April at 5pm. Entrants must reside in the UK.
Q&A with Metaphrog
John Chalmers and Sandra Marrs make up the comic and graphic novel duo Metaphrog.
In your opinion, what is it about fairy tales that makes us want to adapt and retell them?
John: Fairy tales are stories that still resonate with all of us because of the strong messages they carry. They link us to the past, our ancestors, because they are rooted in folk tales and oral traditions, and even though times change, the psychological depth and essential thrill of the stories still carry power. Reading them allows us to suspend disbelief, exercise our imaginations and helps us retain some of our childhood magic. We think that is why people still want to adapt, retell and read them. Lotte Reiniger, the silhouette animation pioneer (creator of The Adventures of Prince Achmed), said: “I believe in the truth of fairy tales more than I believe in the truth in the newspaper”.
Fairy tales still resonate with all of us because of the strong messages they carry
What materials do you use to create these beautiful illustrations?
Sandra: I’ve been working in different media depending on the book. For example, the Louis graphic novels were drawn, painted and inked by hand on paper. The planning stages, or sketches are always done traditionally with pencil and paper and a lot of preparatory work is involved in finalising page layouts and pacing. The artwork for The Little Mermaid was created digitally, as was the artwork for The Red Shoes and Other Tales, drawing and painting directly on screen. But I like to keep the feel of hand-drawn and hand-painted artwork, so utilise top-secret techniques using digital tools that resemble natural brushes and mixed media such as collage.
What tips can you give to any aspiring writers and illustrators?
John: Reading as much as you can and practising writing to hone and improve your craft. Not being afraid to edit and to sacrifice words or sentences or even thematic ideas if they no longer serve the purpose of improving the story as a whole.
Sandra: Practise as much as you can and experiment.