Minnie Pearl and the Undersea Bazaar, by Natalie Jane Prior

Every morning, when they had eaten their seaweed-flakes, they swam through the Bazaar’s golden doors. Minnie helped her mother, Marina, put new gowns on the racks for the mer-models to wear in the day’s fashion parade and then she tidied the changing rooms in Modes and Jewellery.

Minnie Pearl and her parents live behind their shop, the Undersea Bazaar. Minnie helps in the shop when she’s not attending school and learning what to do if she should ever encounter a human. She dreams of being an explorer. Then the wide-smiling Manta Ray opens her Marine Emporium next door and everything begins to change. All the fashionable mermaids flock to Manta’s shop, even Aunt Kelpie is seduced. Minnie’s parents begin to frown as they do the accounts. Minnie determines to help them save their business. She follows Manta and discovers where the newcomer finds her stock. Returning home isn’t quite as easy as she expected and humans aren’t quite as they have been portrayed.

Minnie Pearl and the Underwater Bazaar is a longer picture book for lower to middle primary readers. Minnie is an independent, resourceful heroine determined to help her parents save their shop. Others are happy to follow unquestioningly, but not Minnie. Themes include prejudice against those who are different, and the risks inherent in blindly following fashion trends. The text brings to life an underwater community complete with seahorse-as-pets and sandwiches full of sea-cucumber slices. Cheryl Orsini’s illustrations are full of witty and humorous details, particularly in the stock of both shops. Recommended for lower to middle primary readers.

Minnie Pearl and the Undersea Bazaar, by Natalie Jane Prior & Cheryl Orsini
ABC Books 2007
ISBN: 9780733320149