Mermaid Myths & Musings

Recently, I had the privilege of writing a book about the legend behind a bronze mermaid sculpture that now resides near the creek in Salado, Texas. To be completely transparent, I was given good bones for the story. Oh sure, I created the lyrical, rhyming text in my new book. I love writing in rhyme. It’s how I sing — my voice. Sometimes it’s soulful and poetic, and sometimes it’s choppy and silly, but the pleasing rhythms and repetitive pronunciations fill me with joy. However, Grandmother Kelley, around 75 years ago gave me this story. Well, she gave it to her grandson Troy, who cherished it always, brought the story to life fashioned in bronze, and then he in turn lovingly shared the story with anyone and everyone. Sirena is quite the celebrity in Salado. She’s always keeping watch over the creek, she’s already been featured in print, and she has several scenes in a local play. Sirena’s also been recreated by artisans young and old, and she even inspired a local non-profit organization. Her resume is longer than many fully-functioning actual people! Impressive.

Sirena of Salado by sculptor Troy Kelley

Sirena of Salado by sculptor Troy Kelley

As I started sharing my writing project with friends and family, I felt like I needed to know more about mermaids in general. While Sirena isn’t a typical ocean mermaid, she did inherit a beautiful tail like her kin. So I did a little “fishing” and came up with some interesting trivia about mermaids and mermaid culture.

  1. Mermaids go way, way, back. All the way back to 1000 B.C. in Syria where legend has it, Atargatis, the goddess of the moon, had a wish to be a fish, but only her bottom half transformed.

  2. Mermaid means “maid of the sea.” Not maid, like do all the housework, but maid like a woman.

  3. Sometimes mistaken for manatees, mermaids, however, are not sea cows, but sea wows!

  4. Much like women, mermaids have superpowers! Right, gals? Mermaid superpowers are immortality, seeing the future, telepathy, and hypnosis.

  5. A mermaid’s kiss is magical (again much like women) and is thought to give the receiver the ability to breathe underwater.

  6. The telltale sign of a mermaid’s mood is the color of her tail.

  7. Mermaids are represented by outdoor sculptures in at least 42 countries, with the most being in the United States.

  8. Mermaids have been featured in as many as 16 movies or films.

  9. Once considered bad omens, mermaids now inspire resiliency and tenacity in people for a variety of reasons.

  10. Mermaid fashion, jewelry, and art are still some of the most sought after items for females of all ages.

I could go on, but I think you may now know just a little bit more about magical mermaids; a little bit more than you did before. As a newly educated mermaid enthusiast, you’ll love Maiden Mermaid — The Tale of Sirena. There’s even a sequel in the works that will be filled with more mermaid excitement.

Sirena and the Evil Catfish

Sirena and the Evil Catfish

Sheri Wall
The Real 3 R's: Rhyming, Repetition & Retention

When my firstborn, now 28, was very young, sometimes he’d wake up in the morning a little earlier than I’d like. Not quite ready to start the day myself, I would then grab some books, hunker down under the covers with him, and start reading aloud just to get a little more “active rest” time in for both of us. We always gravitated toward rhyming books with lots of repetition. Always. Oh sure, we read a good variety, but those rhymers were our favorites. We especially liked the Jesse Bear books by Nancy White Carlstrom and The Red Carpet by Rex Parkin. Even when son number two came along almost 8 years later, I employed the same tactics and read most of the very same books. Classics.

Fast forward through our homeschool experience, then their young adulthood, and I’m now self-publishing books in my empty-nest years. When I started this endeavor, I had a few things I hoped to accomplish: I wanted to write in rhyme, I wanted to use entertaining repetitive verse when it worked in the story, and I wanted to help develop children’s vocabularies while they were reading.

With five children’s books completed and several more in the works, I’ve stayed true to what I wanted to make happen. However, I’ve received a little criticism via Amazon reviews: “Not a book just a long poem,” “The same verse is repeated on each page,” “Book was repetitive.” Hmmm, criticism over just what I was after? Oh well, not everyone is going to agree with me, agree with me, agree with me.

There are reasons for doing what I do in children’s books. On rhyming and repetition, the following is what I wrote for the “From the Author” section of each of my books on Amazon:

Rhyming and repetition have been proven to significantly enhance the cognitive development of children. It’s good for their brains!

-Language learning is increased through phonemic awareness and word recognition through context. Their ears and eyes work better together!

-Memorization of rhymes and repetitive verse grows confidence and provides opportunities for bonding and positive social interactions. They read and smile more!

All true. As far as developing their vocabulary, it’s been researched that exposing children to unfamiliar, advanced words in illustrated books on a regular basis could grow their vocabulary by more than ten words a day.

-Reading books aloud that contain advanced words is the first step of purposeful exposure. Let them hear big words!

-Repeated reading of the same books allows for reinforcement and recognition of the advanced words. It’s okay if they pick the same books every night!

-After their eyes and ears have worked together during a read aloud, take time to ask your child what they think the big words mean. Kids love sharing what they know!

-Critical thinking skills and the ability to accurately express feelings are also benefits for children with advanced vocabularies. Their brains connect the dots more quickly!

My latest release Maiden Mermaid — The Tale of Sirena is an illustrated rhyming children’s book with a good bit of advanced vocabulary purposefully used. In the back of the book, I included a glossary with child-friendly definitions to encourage comprehension and discussions between the child and reader. The glossary will also be helpful to self-readers too. 

Remember the 3 R’s when selecting books for your child! You’ll be helping their brains more than you know!

Sheri Wall