3 out of 4 stars
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A tale of maritime fantasy awaits young readers in The Fisherman and his Foundlings by Phillip Leighton-Daly. Apart from the violent storms that batter the coast, and the reef that causes many ships to sink, Leighton-Daly’s imaginative sea is also home to a secret tribe of vicious merfolk who abhor the people who live on land. The protagonist of the tale is an old, widowed fisherman from Tumby who charitably provides fish and his good company to both the victims at a leper colony and the children at an orphanage. His fate peculiarly becomes tied to the merfolk when he rescues an injured mermaid on the way home from his trip to the orphanage. The fisherman immediately begins nursing the little mermaid back to health. Unfortunately, the Queen of the merfolk had left the injured mermaid as bait to lure the fisherman into the sea. She plans to kill him and collect his bones because she hates his goodwill toward others. Will the fisherman’s kindness triumph over the evil Queen’s hatred in this tale? Or will the story end in tragedy and disaster?
The colorful illustrations by J. Raphael Edmundo Honasan together with the vivid descriptions of the setting were my favorite things about this book. Coastal features such as the land bridge, sea caves, and rock pools were portrayed in vibrant animations. Brief paragraphs were scattered among the illustrations, which made the book a rather short read. I read it in one sitting. I did not discover any formatting or grammatical errors so I am certain that it was professionally edited. The protagonist’s character was exemplary. His generosity and kindness in the story can encourage readers to do charitable work. I liked this aspect of the book.
Although the story did not actively focus on religion, facets of Christianity were present. For instance, the fisherman made the sign of the cross each morning when he passed by the sea caves that contained the graves of seamen. Fishing was also regarded as a noble profession in the holy books. There’s also a reference to ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ which represents an ascent into Heaven according to Christian literature. A prayer was also included in the story. The inclusion of these made my reading experience more enjoyable because I could relate to them.
What I disliked most about this story was the villain’s role. The Queen was undeniably evil, but her motive was flawed. There was no valid reason for her hatred toward the people who lived on land. Besides, she was cruel to her own people, but I didn’t understand why. I felt like this aspect of the story could have been developed more.
In this story, the author uses complex vocabulary. It was refreshing to look up the meanings of words that I hadn’t encountered before. However, this is a children’s book, so I am concerned that this level of language and vocabulary may be too difficult for those aged eleven and under. With adult guidance, younger audiences can enjoy the story, but teen readers will be able to read and understand it by themselves. Besides children, I would recommend this book to adult readers who like short stories. Some readers may not appreciate the Christian undertones present in this book. They may want to steer clear of this one. Overall, I am rating The Fisherman and his Foundlings 3 out of 4 stars.
The Fisherman and his Foundlings
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