Mabel: A Mermaid Fable
Mabel: A Mermaid Fable

Mabel: A Mermaid Fable

Written and illustrated by Rowboat Watkins
3 - 5
Reading age
Page count
Mar 24, 2020
Publication date

Buy from other retailers


What Does Bookroo Think of This Book

While not remarkable, this quirky mermaid tale shares the important message of friends accepting and appreciating others for their differences.

Mabel the mermaid is the only one in her family that doesn’t have a mustache. She tries to hide her lack of facial hair with “jaunty shells” and “seaweed falsies,” but she just feels silly, and other fish call her a “nudibranch.” She doesn’t know what that means, but she knows it must be bad . . . so she hides away in holes on the ocean floor. One of the holes has another occupant named Lucky—a seven-legged octopus who also feels diminished by its differences—and the two become good friends. While playing around the coral, fish swim by and call them both “nudibranchs,” and Mabel finally learns what the word means from Lucky’s perceptive point of view: amazing sea slugs! Ending full circle on a cliche but appropriate note, Mabel realizes “everything she ever really needed was already right under her nose.” The muted, colorful watercolor illustrations are adorable in a unconventional way, boasting short and stout mermaids and bright, creative nudibranchs. Watkins intertwines clever touches—such as witty word play, the baby’s mustache, Mabel’s “sort of” juggling, the ignoring of the bullies, and wavy text appearing to ride the ocean current—with his unique and quirky illustrations to display a sweet message of the value of true friends, being oneself, and appreciating differences.

What Kind of Book is Mabel: A Mermaid Fable


being yourselffriendshipmaking friendsbeards and mustachesmermaidsself-esteem and self-relianceindividualityfamilyself-esteemsocial themesoctopusesself-acceptancemulticulturaldiversity

What Questions Should I Ask My Child

  • Mabel is different because she doesn't have a mustache, and Lucky is different for only having seven legs instead of eight. What makes you different and unique?
  • Lucky shows Mabel that you don't need to be like everyone else to be happy. When you see bullies like the puffer fish that call Mabel and Lucky "nudibranchs," what can you do to be inclusive, kind, and appreciative of others' differences?


Book Lists That Include This Book

The Creative Behind the Book

What Has Rowboat Watkins Said About This Book

Nothing yet! Let Rowboat Watkins know that you want to hear from them about their book.

More Books by Rowboat Watkins

    picture • 40 Pages
    Most Marshmallows
    Rowboat Watkins
    picture • 40 Pages
    Pete With No Pants
    Rowboat Watkins
    picture • 40 Pages
    Big Bunny
    Rowboat Watkins
    picture • 40 Pages
    Rude Cakes
    Rowboat Watkins
    View more

Other Books You Might Enjoy If You Liked This Book

    picture • 40 Pages
    Little Juniper Makes It BIG
    Aidan Cassie
    picture • 32 Pages
    My Shadow Is Purple
    Scott Stuart
    picture • 32 Pages
    Black, White, Just Right
    Marguerite W. Davol, Irene Trivas
    picture • 32 Pages
    Remarkably You
    Pat Zietlow Miller, Patrice Barton
    picture • 32 Pages
    Maurice the Unbeastly
    Amy Dixon, Karl James Mountford
    picture • 32 Pages
    Brown Sugar Babe
    picture • 32 Pages
    Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration
    Kaylani Juanita
    picture • 32 Pages
    Lulu the One and Only
    Jennie Poh, Lynnette Mawhinney
    picture • 40 Pages
    You Are Enough: A Book about Inclusion
    Margaret O'Hair, Sofia Cardoso
    picture • 32 Pages
    Happy in Our Skin
    Fran Manushkin, Lauren Tobia

Book Details

Publication Date
March 24, 2020
Chronicle Books
Text Details
Typeset in Austral Slab Rough
Illustration Details
The illustrations in this book were made with pencil, watercolor, ink, vintage book paper, and an iMac.
Page Count
Reading Age
3 - 5 years
Lib. of Congress (LCCN)
WorldCat Number (OCLC)

Contribute to this page

Core Score - 90%

So, SO close to perfection!

Depth Score - 28%

Just the barebones.

Improve this page

Are you the author or illustrator? Claim your book.

Top Contributors


Book Clubs

Follow Bookroo