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The Picture Book Buzz

Remarkables - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

The holidays can be tough. While advancement and globalization has made the world smaller, at times it has made the world much larger. Chasing dreams across the country, or the world, can leave a person stranded during holidays that are traditionally family based.

There have been many Thanksgivings and Christmases where my house and table has been packed full of friends who, for one reason or another, couldn't get home to their families, or had nowhere to go. As a result, my family has grown and I can't imagine not having these amazing people in my life.

Lisa Mantchev and David Litchfield have created a gorgeous, tender book on friendship, acceptance, and finding where you belong.


Author: Lisa Mantchev

Illustrator: David Litchfield

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/ Simon & Schuster (2019)

Ages: 4-8



Friendship, belonging, uniqueness, and finding a home.


When a boy is out swimming and looking for fish, he meets a mermaid instead. She is all alone. He welcomes her to his home and his circus family. Though she misses the ocean, she feels she has found a new family and home. With lyrical text and luminous artwork, Remarkables is a story of friendship and finding home. What a remarkable place the world is.

Opening Lines:

The world is a remarkable place.,

which means sometimes you go looking for a fish . . .

and meet a mermaid instead.

What I liked about this book:

This is a truly beautiful, nearly wordless book. It is absolutely mesmerizing. It begins with a boy diving into the ocean "looking for a fish and meet[ing] a mermaid instead."

Text © Lisa Mantchev, 2019 . Image © David Litchfield, 2019.

David Litchfield's illustrations are so full of light and emotion. He's created both a fantastical magical world under the sea and a vibrant colorful world of a travelling circus.

Text © Lisa Mantchev, 2019 . Image © David Litchfield, 2019.

In exploring the mermaid's home, the boy discovers mementoes of the mermaid's family floating among ruined buildings. Memories of a family she used to have. Upon surfacing, the boy regales her with tales of his family and the circus and the mermaid decides to run off to the circus. "Sometimes the ending of one remarkable story . . .is the beginning of another."

Text © Lisa Mantchev, 2019 . Image © David Litchfield, 2019.

As she travels with the circus, sharing her tales of the ocean, she finds a place where she belongs - as part of a family of remarkable people. I love David's ethereal depictions of these tales. When the mermaid's had enough adventure, and is ready to return to the ocean, she discovers that she's found "strangers who become friends, and friends who become family."

This is a great book that encourages the reader to take a risk and connect with others in this world "full of remarkable people." It reminds me of the saying "friends are the family we choose." While some of the diversity shown is endemic to a circus (a strongman and a clown), there is a wide range depicted. Overall, this is a touching book on friendship and finding one's place.


- how do you define family? Make a collage or draw a picture of all the people in your family;

- if you ran away to the circus, what would you do?

- what real or imaginary thing/person have you always wanted to meet?

- take a chance and make a new friend.

If you missed the interview of Lisa Mantchev on Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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