Shulamith Levey Oppenheim

 

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The Fish Prince

The Fish Prince

written with Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Paul Hoffman
2001, Interlink Books

Mermen? Yes. Long before mermaids emerged to people our inner seas, long before they established their restless, inviting niche in human fantasy, there was the merman. Born of the human need to dominate the great fruitful oceans, to control the vast destructive seas, to regulate the healing rains, to understand the tides, the merman emerged.

The merman was water personified. The imposing water gods could be wheedled, cozened, implored, but-in the end-they were never fooled. How often were Poseidon or Neptune, Lir, Njord and the rest pictured riding the waves along inhospitable shores, shaking their magical tridents or spears or fists at the weak, imploring humans on land? The sea gods called up storms or quieted waves. They flooded the lands. They drowned the unwary.

Yet despite the importance of early fish-tailed gods such as Ea-Enki and Dagon; despite the preponderance of mermen in the mythologies of Babylon, Greece, the British Isles, the Scandinavian peninsula, Germany; despite the mermen ranging along Slavic shores and inland seas; despite the mermen found in Chinese and Japanese lakes, along Polynesian island coasts, and in the lore and literature of the Middle East, the merman has become Legend's Forgotten Man. With its 27 stories from around the world, this volume reconstructs the unnatural history of the Merman.

Reviews:

"This volume skillfully blends fact and fiction, history and fancy, ancient lore and firsthand accounts of sightings and involvements between humans and mermen from medieval times to the present. Even the introductions and afterwards are well worth reading. Very highly recommended."
-- Robert Rodriquez, Territorial Tattle

"The writing is graceful, fast moving, and entertaining throughout, avoiding the long-windedness that sometimes characterizes folktale collections. Back matter includes a glossary of gods of the sea and a comprehensive bibliography that will appeal to adult scholars of folklore as well as young people. Hoffman's handsome black-and-white prints illustrate the selections."
-- from Booklist

"Retold by the collaborative efforts of award-winning children's authors and folklorists Jane Yolen and Shulamith Oppenheim, The Fish Prince And Other Stories is an exciting, exotic, enthusiastically recommended anthology for anyone entranced by mythological and folklore legends of the seafolk!"
-- The Myth/Folklore Shelf

"From Russia to Mali and Chile, the stories herein embody a vast wealth of different cultures and traditions. Retold by the collaborative efforts of award-winning children's authors and folklorists Jane Yolen and Shulamith Oppenheim, The Fish Prince and Other Stories is an exciting, exotic, enthusiastically recommended anthology for anyone entranced by mythological and folklore legends of the seafolk!"
-- MultiCultural Review

"A fine book for a study of interesting folktales or the merman archetype. Recommended."
-- The Linworth Book Report

"A fascinating collection of 27 mermen tales from all over the world...The Fish Prince addresses a bizarre, neglected area of folklore with a lot of charm"
-- The Advocate

"Jane Yolen and Shulamith Oppenheim dive deeply into their watery heritage in The Fish Prince and Other Stories...provides concise descriptions of the many broad variations on the merman myth, punctuated by brief recountings of several brief myths designed to flesh out the characters and give each its own ethnic identity...It's a fun, educational read, shining its light on an overlooked segment of the world's diverse cultural folklore."
-- Rambles: A Cultural and Literary Magazine