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Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story Of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way To Fame, Fortune & Swimsuit History!

Last updated Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Author: Shana Corey
Date of Publication: 2009
ISBN: 0439698359
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2010

Synopsis: As a child growing up in Australia, Annette Kellerman was a frail ugly duckling who dreamed of becoming a graceful ballerina. In the early 1900s, before women were allowed to compete in the Olympics, her hard-earned athleticism drew more criticism than compliments. Swimming? Unladylike! Record setting? For the boys! Eager to do something more artistic with her abilities, Annette invented water ballet, and her acrobatic feats drew crowds. Each event described is interesting, but what really shines is Kellerman's persistent refusal to rest on her laurels. After her attempt to be the first woman to swim the English Channel, and performing for kings and queens, she went on to pioneer the modern woman's bathing suit, which led to her arrest in the U.S. Fotheringham's glorious artwork is filled with period details and dress, high-dives and stunts, and priceless expressions on the faces of amazed audiences. School Library Journal Review

Note to readers:
•  Read the background on Annette (found at the back of the book) so you can answer more of the kids' questions.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you like to swim?
•  Have you been to the beach?
•  What do you wear when you go swimming?
•  What do you think (or know) your grandparents wore?
•  If you were going to the beach but weren't allowed to show your arms or legs, what would you wear?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you know where Australia is? Find it on the map/globe.
•  Look at the pictures. What do you see on Annette's legs? Why do you think she can't walk?
•  Do you like to swim? If not, do you like to run or play any other sports?
•  Why do you think people would talk about Annette being a girl athlete? Can girls be athletes too?
•  What does drastic mean?
•  Do you know what a tug or barge is?
•  Try and explain how far she swam in the English Channel by relating it to the distance between their school and Disneyland, for example.
•  Why do you think people started calling Annette the mermaid queen?
•  Why was it a problem for Annette to show her legs? How did she solve this problem?
•  It might be fun to spot the puns/plays on words throughout (e.g., making a splash, racing, making waves)
•  Have you ever tried to swim in your clothes? Is it easier or harder than a bathing suit?
•  Do you think Annette should have been arrested? Do you think the judge should have sent Annette to jail?
•  Why do you think Annette might be considered an everyday hero?

Craft ideas:
•  Imagine what kids will be wearing in 2050. Draw the clothes designs.
•  Make puppets/paper dolls and their clothes/bathing suits.
•  Draw what your everyday hero might look like. What would they do that would make them a hero?
•  Draw the swimmers in the Thames and the ripples of the waves.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!