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Written by Ali Redford, an adoptive mother of two, The Mermaid Who Couldn't is a children's picture for children age 4+. Although aimed at those who have experienced early childhood trauma and perhaps ended up in the care system, this is a book which will help any child understand feelings of shame. The book uses metaphors to show how children can find a sense of self worth.

mermaid and octopus, mermaid illustration, octopus illustration, childrens book illustration

I wanted Marianas journey to be reflected in the illustrations. We initially see her lurking in the deep, dark ocean lit only by the luminescence of underwater sea creatures. Mariana makes her way from dark to light and back again as she learns how to love herself and trust others. I had a lot of time to play and experiment prior to beginning the finished version and spent some of that time producing tonal studies of the storyboard so that I could be sure of getting the right contrast between light and dark in the finished version.

mermaid and jellyfish, mermaid illustration, children's book illustration
a mermaid sinking, a whirlpool, mermaid illustration, children's book illustration

"The Mermaid Who Couldn't is a powerful and beautifully illustrated story for children and adults alike, reminding us that even in the depths of self-doubt and despair, the capacity for change can come from something as simple as an act of kindness and a helping hand."


Rita Soronen, President & CEO, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

mermaids in a cove, mermaid illustration, childrens book illustration
tonal study, storyboard, mermaid illustrations, childrens book ilustrations

Tonal study of storyboard

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