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Nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal

"A highlight of the year"

Books of the Year, Books for Keeps

"Young readers will enjoy inhabiting this tropical world..."

Kirkus Reviews

If you see this, the video is loading. It's rather wonderful and worth waiting for!

Mermaid Trailer

When Benjie and Bel find a strange creature on a tropical beach they know it's a dugong. But the dugong insists she is a beautiful mermaid and to prove it, she shows them her mermaid's tail and sings them a mermaid song. The children aren't convinced but they play with their new friend all the same. When it's time for her to go back to sea, there is one surprise left - could she be a mermaid after all?

Mermaid Synopsis
Mermaid Video 2
Meet the Dugong

The Dugong is a Sea Cow. It feeds on seagrass in the shallow waters of Southeast Asia, Australia, India and the Middle East.


It is closely related to the elephant, it even has little tusks hidden in its mouth – and like the elephant it eats a LOT: a Dugong can eat up to 40 kilos of seagrass a day!

Unlike its cousin, the Manatee, which has a paddle tail, the Dugong has a fluked tail ... like a mermaid.


It is said that during the 17th and 18th centuries, European sailors arriving in South-east Asia thought Dugongs were mermaids.

The Dugong


Nat Geo Dugong Video


The Authors









Kirkus Reviews Young readers will enjoy inhabiting this tropical world infused with fanciful creatures (mermaid or not), and the message of respecting another’s chosen identities is both clear and gentle. Chessa’s illustrations depict little brown-skinned Benji and Bel with childlike exuberance, and a lovely spread at the end of the day highlights the tropical landscape, framing the dugong swimming off—or is that a mermaid’s tail? This playful frolic in tropical waters is a gentle introduction to the concept of chosen identity and respect for others’ choices.

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Books Go Walkabout We strongly recommend, Is it a Mermaid? The text and the beautiful illustrations will make it a favourite in schools, libraries nurseries and at home. Read more

Mamma Filz So much love has gone in to the completion of this book and I think it is brilliant. Candy Gourlay and Francesca Chessa, you have a new fan right here! Read more

Red Reading Hub Beautifully portrayed in richly coloured scenes and told with gentle humour, this slice of tropical life will delight and amuse young listeners – it’s a treat to read aloud. Read more

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