• Paperback Snob

Mermaids, magic and rule-ripping fun!

Do Not Mess with the Mermaids by Michelle Robinson and Sharon Davey, Bloomsbury

Looking for a series set in a magical realm, with wonderful characters and some of the funniest one-liners and scenes imaginable? Look no further! We absolutely love Do Not Mess with the Mermaids by Michelle Robinson and Sharon Davey, and its rebellious princesses, Grace and Portia. Although this is a follow-up to the equally excellent, Do Not Disturb the Dragons, it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story.

The kingdom of Wondermere relies on a series of strict instructions to maintain order and keep sacred dragons nesting in the castle’s turrets happy. It is believed that the dragons, and especially their dung, bring good fortune. The mere suggestion of the slightest deviation from the rules designed to appease these creatures is enough to induce panic in the king and his subjects.

Princesses Grace and Portia take a less conventional and more flexible approach to the guidelines. In this latest adventure, dragon-phobic mermaid royalty comes to stay. Although King Wonder promises there will be no dragons in the castle, he doesn’t realise Grace and Portia have smuggled a dragon’s egg inside. If it hatches, there could be a baby dragon on the loose and human-mermaid relations might never recover…

Using a selection of the kingdom’s rules as a clever framing device for each chapter, author Michelle Robinson and her magnificent characters proceed to break them all with spectacular results. Grace and Portia not only defy the expectations and limits placed on them by tradition and superstition, they smash gender and princess stereotypes too. They’re fantastic role models and brilliant company.

One of Sharon Davey's illustrations for Do Not Mess with the Mermaids - taken from Michelle Robinson's blog

Michelle Robinson has built an intricate and compelling universe with so many interesting, innovative and humorous touches. I love the forest market and its exotic wares and was so glad we visited it again in this story. The exchanges between the market vendors and the princesses always make me laugh. The witch-in-training had me in stitches, as did her accidents with antlers (you’ll have to read the book to find out what I mean).

Sharon Davey’s illustrations expertly bring each character to life with added comedy. Dennis the dragon steals the show in this story, and he looks so cute in every image. Even he breaks the rules and doesn't always behave like a typical dragon. There are vignettes of him from egg to hatchling at the beginning of the chapters. There's also a detailed map of Wondermere at the start of the book. I love how these elements make the story even more enchanting and immersive. My kids are a little young to tackle this independently, so I’ve been reading a couple of chapters aloud to them every evening and they’re hooked. I’m too impatient to stay at their pace and had to read ahead and finish the book without them – it’s terrific. Wondermere is one of my favourite fictional places and I hope it won’t be too long before book three arrives with more rule-ripping fun!

About the author: Michelle Robinson has written over 40 books for young people. Her work has won several awards including the Lollies Laugh Out Loud Book Award, Sainsbury's Children's Book Award, the Stockport Children's Book Award and the North Somerset Teachers' Book Awards. Find out more about Michelle, her books and her best writing tips on her website.

About the illustrator:

Sharon Davey is a children's illustrator based in Surrey, England. She loves to draw grumpy kids and comical animals, and enjoys sliding down stairs on her bottom and collecting plastic dinosaurs. Sharon has illustrated many bestselling books, including one of our favourites, I Don’t Like Books. Never Ever. The End, and you see more of her work on her website.

Watch a reading of Do Not Mess with the Mermaids with Michelle Robinson and Sharon Davey

Read Picture Book Snob's review of She Rex by Michelle Robinson and Deborah Allwright

Read Picture Book Snob's review of The World Made a Rainbow by Michelle Robinson and Emily Hamilton

Do Not Mess with the Mermaids was published by Bloomsbury on 8th July 2021. A huge thanks to the lovely people in Bloomsbury for sharing this wonderful book with us - all opinions expressed are our own.

#michellerobinson #sharondavey #wondermere #bloomsbury #series #sep21newsletter