July 6 Birthday: Annette Kellerman. MERMAID QUEEN

Annette Kellerman, swimmer, athlete
July 6, 1880 – November 5, 1975

MERMAID QUEEN (Scholastic, 2009)
by Shana Corey. Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham

From Publishers Weekly:
Admirers of Corey (You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer!) and of Fotheringham (What to Do About Alice?)
will be eager for this picture book biography of another early
feminist, the swimmer Annette Kellerman (1886-1975). As a child in
Australia, Kellerman had to wear leg braces for some unspecified
illness; to strengthen her body, she swam-and grew up to become an
endurance swimmer, to invent water ballet and introduce the modern
bathing suit to horrified Americans and Europeans (swimming before an
audience that included British royalty, Kellerman was made to cover up
her bare legs). As in her previous books, Corey includes the details
that both humanize Kellerman and make her a legend; for example, trying
to cross the English Channel, the swimmer “slurps” soup or hot chocolate
through a “long-snouted” cup and eats sandwiches proffered on the end
of a long stick. The art is equally powerful: punchy graphics suggest a
woman in perpetual motion, with bubble, dot and curve motifs to
underscore the aquatic theme. The illustrations are almost too powerful:
the high-contrast colors can be dizzying, and the art at times vies
with the text for readers’ attention.
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