Mermaid Kenzie: Protector of the Deeps

by Charlotte Watson Sherman (Author) Geneva Bowers (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Kenzie turns her fierce love for the ocean into action, resourcefully cleaning up the beach after her mermaid-tail swimsuit tangles in floating plastic bags. When Kenzie slips on her mermaid tail, she becomes Mermaid Kenzie, protector of the deeps. One day as Kenzie snorkels around a shipwreck, she discovers more plastic bags than fish. Grabbing her spear and mermaid net, she begins to clean up the water and the shore--inspiring other kids to help.

Beautifully written in African American Vernacular English, this poetic picture book includes back matter with information about how plastic winds up in our oceans and examples of people--some of them kids, like Kenzie--who have worked to protect the sea. Mermaid Kenzie celebrates the ways that all of us, no matter how small, can make a difference.


Children who have spent time at the beach will identify with many of Kenzie's experiences, while teachers will appreciate the book's STEM connections, perfect for lessons on recycling or Earth Day storytimes.

Kirkus Reviews

An understated yet unambiguous call to action for everyone to do their part to protect the oceans. 

Publishers Weekly

Combining dialogue with songlike poetry, Sherman centers a young Black child named McKenzie who enjoys visiting the beach, donning a mermaid tail, and playing in the water with a seal buddy named Cocoa. McKenzie, also known as "Mermaid Kenzie, Protector of the Deeps," stages a beach cleanup after encountering plastic bags while snorkeling: "This mermaid cleans up for my sea pals." Digital art by Bowers renders glossy, big-eyed characters of varying skin tones against vividly colored, thinly outlined backdrops, while poetic lines ("Mist silver the water,/ briny taste on our tongue./ Seaweed perfume the air./ Gray, the heron, drift past,/ wing almost blocking the sun") lead to a feel-good ending with an inspiring message. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Charlotte Watson Sherman
Charlotte Watson Sherman grew up in Seattle, a city with natural beauty that inspired her love for the color brown (and green and blue). She now lives in California near a marine sanctuary.

Akem is an illustrator and writer who lives in Vancouver, BC. This is her first picture book.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Astra Young Readers
Publication date
January 20, 2022
BISAC categories
JUV011010 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - African-American
JUV029010 - Juvenile Fiction | Nature & the Natural World | Environment
JUV066000 - Juvenile Fiction | Mermaids
JUV063000 - Juvenile Fiction | Recycling & Green Living
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
Clothing and dress
Litter (Trash)

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