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Is it a Mermaid?


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About the Author

Candy Gourlay grew up in the Philippines but now lives in London, UK. Her novels for young readers have been received with great acclaim - Bone Talk, published in 2018, was shortlisted for the Costa Prize and nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Tall Story and Shine both won the Crystal Kite for Europe, among other prize listings. Is it a Mermaid? is her first picture book. www.candygourlay.com

Francesca Chessa has illustrated over 40 books with publishers all over the world, including Library Lily and Elliot's Arctic Surprise. She lives in Turin, Italy, where she runs art workshops for children and adults.


"Is it a Mermaid? has been a highlight this year and has had many joyous readings as we have shared it endlessly with the new baby in the family. Beautifully illustrated by Francesca Chessa...the story is full of humorous touches."

-- Dr Pam Dix, Chair of IBBY UK * Books for Keeps Best Books of 2018 *

"A truly beautiful, imaginative and heart-soaring tale."

* Read It, Daddy *

"Beautifully portrayed in richly coloured scenes and told with gentle humour, this slice of tropical life will delight and amuse young listeners - it's a treat to read aloud. There is however a serious side to the book: the final page gives factual information about Dugongs explaining how their seagrass habitat is being destroyed, thus placing the creatures on the list of vulnerable species."

* Red Reading Hub *

"The children and the dugong are constantly active - so that the picture book feels alive and exuberant."

* Minerva Reads *

"Francesca Chessa's illustrations are colourful and the characters lively and sympathetic. Together, author and illustrator show that we need to be respectful of people's feelings, and perhaps let them be what they want to be."

* Armadillo *

"A wonderfully multi-layered and fun read-aloud!"

* Library Mice *

"This playful frolic in tropical waters is a gentle introduction to the concept of chosen identity and respect for others' choices."

* Kirkus Reviews *

"This is a great book about kindness and linked a lot to our recent fundraising efforts for endangered animals. It's a fun read and one that we've shared a lot this last couple of months."

* Let Them be Small *

"Humorous and appealing, this picturebook embarks on a journey to the borderlands between imagination and reality, while simultaneously creating an awareness of kindness, perception and the environment. The warm, whimsical illustrations paint an animated world, abundant in texture, colour and difference. A tropical vision of island and sea unfolds and swells the further into the book you dive. The story is charming and filled with meaning as the children are gently exposed to ideas of self-identity and differing points of view. There is a heartfelt understanding and expression of the culture of children and the reader enters into their world and sees it through their eyes. But primarily, it is simply an enchanting and fanciful adventure that encourages the reader to look closer and be filled with wonder. Gentle and captivating, this is a book that will delight everyone."

* INIS *

"Francesca Chessa's glorious illustrations are full of life and colour, beautiful representations of ocean life that complement the delightful story to perfection."

* Parents in Touch *

"The colourful collage style illustrations by Francesca Chessa are extraordinarily beautiful and suffused with a variety of rich blues and greens... I can guarantee that you will be able to feel the sunshine and hear the waves crashing as you immerse yourself in the beautiful pictures. And you will never think about mermaids in quite the same way again."

* Letter Press Project *

"A diverse picture book, filled with tropical colours and cleverly informing readers about Dugongs, a species which is threatened with extinction."

* Mamma Filz *

"An interesting and engaging story. Highly recommended for 3 to 11s."

* English 4 - 11 *

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