Once there was a boy called Luka who lived by the shore of a deep silvery sea. Luka longed to splash in the surf and dive beneath the cool water, but he couldn't swim.
Published in April 2015 by Scholastic Picture Books
Sylvia is an amazing swimmer. She is also strong, and very determined. But only Luka knows that she is also a mermaid! As the two become friends, they set off on a magical journey they will never forget.
This is the second picture book by CBeebies presenter, Cerrie Burnell, and it is just as beautiful as her first. It is so rare to see such diverse characters in picture books and this one is brimming with them. Sylvia unable to walk, but the author has seen past Sylvia's disability to make her one of the most powerful, ambitious and inspirational characters. Sylvia doesn't let her disability stop her reaching for her dreams. She can see past it, causing everyone around her to do the same. In this book, she is the teacher. She teaches Luka how to swim, really showing her disability in a positive light.
There is a magical element to the story, when Luka dreams of Sylivia actually being a mermaid, which would be believable to anyone with an ounce of belief in magic. Mermaids would definitely need to use a wheel chair on land, because their legs just wouldn't be strong enough. There is such a magical quality to Cerrie's writing, which is only magnified by Laura Ellen Anderson's stunning illustrations. Author and illustrator make a perfect partnership, bringing back a magical appeal to picture books, often so dominated by bodily functions of late.
This is a beautiful book that should be shared in every reception class. Every child should have the opportunity to see that disability doesn't have to be seen as a negative. So many can and do overcome their disability to still fulfil their dreams.