“You must first reach the Sirens near you,
that all men enchant who come to them.
Whoever approaches them, unwillingly, and listens to the voice
of the Sirens, that never his wife and children
any more they will see him return, they will never have any more delight
but the Sirens, enchant them with their clear voices, sitting on a lawn … .. ”
Thus Circe, in Homer’s Odyssey, spoke to Ulysses about the sirens. Woe to the man who listens to their persuasive song that promises supreme knowledge! He will die atrociously on the pointed and sharp rocks.
Do mermaids really exist? It is certain that Homer was the first in the West to define their aquatic nature.
Even in relatively recent times, fishermen and sailors used to long voyages, have narrated of encounters with mermaids, but it is possible that the creatures glimpsed by these crews, formed solely of tired men, undernourished, alone and therefore not sufficiently lucid, were not female bodies with fishtails, but nothing but Monk Seals or perhaps Manatees or Dugongs.
The mermaids, these fantastic creatures of the sea with an irresistible song, seductive and dangerous, half women and half fish, besides being an ancient, timeless myth, present in all cultures, have recently become the protagonists of very famous fairy tales and successful films that have fascinating both children and adults. We, therefore, decided to dedicate our monthly selection to these creatures by choosing three books for young and very young readers.
The little Mermaid.
A timeless classic, the Little Mermaid is perhaps the most famous fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen, which is worth reading again and telling to children from 4 years old. It is the story of a very curious and sensitive young beautiful mermaid, who lives on the bottom of the sea with her father, her King of the Sea, a widower, her grandmother, and five older sisters. At the age of fifteen, according to the mermaid tradition, she is allowed to swim to the surface to look at the world above the sea. On this occasion, at night, during a storm, she witnesses the sinking of a ship captained by a beautiful prince. She rescues him and falls in love with him. In order to win her heart, she asks the witch of the abyss to transform her long fishtail into a pair of tapered legs like those of humans, but her fate decides otherwise. The book tells the story in its full version and is enriched by beautiful and colorful illustrations by Gemma Capdevila, a young Catalan artist.
Atlas of the Sirens. Maps and stories of enchantresses from the sea
All the secrets of the mermaids will be revealed in this enchanting atlas. A journey into the myth of elusive and fascinating creatures leads us to meet mermaids from all over the world, each of which has an extraordinary story to tell. The myth of the mermaids is in fact present in all cultures of the world, from Scandinavia to Japan, to the Philippines and South America, even among peoples isolated from the rest of humanity. Full of beautiful illustrations and attention to detail, it involves young and old in a fantastic world beyond imagination.
Irma the Mermaid
Two friends, during a village fair, meet a mermaid girl exhibited as an attraction in the booth of an amusement park. After an absolutely realistic start, incredulity, curiosity, wonder lead them to live adventures with Irma, on the edge of the imagination and the dream. In an elegant edition, accompanied by beautiful illustrations by Gabriella Giandelli, this first story by Antonio Tabucchi presents that dimension of childhood which, as the author states, “spies on the world of adults and tries to imitate it without understanding it”.
Author: Maria Beatrice Lupi. A naturalist and expert in training, planning for sustainable development, participatory methodologies, and European planning. Currently, she is involved in dissemination and education for sustainability.
Translation by Maria Antonietta Sessa