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At Home in the Sea

Some favorite mermaids of page and screen

By Amanda Cleveland • May 16, 2023

As someone who dreams of recreating Cher's costume from Mermaids, and with the excitement of welcoming a new mermaid to the screen with Disney's live action The Little Mermaid, I could not resist the opportunity to walk through my favorite mermaids of page and screen and find my fellow mermaid loving folks all of the aquatic goodness the summer demands.

Disney's The Little Mermaid

If you have a little at home that cannot get enough of the angel-voiced mermaid of Disney's The Little Mermaid, these books will keep them entertained and splashing all summer:

For those looking for something Disney-inspired but directed toward adults and teens, these book picks are some great selections:

Plus, to round out your Disney collection, ThriftBooks carries some amazing and unique figurines that will beachify any mermaid's room. Personally, I love the happy Flounder figurine and this showstopping Ariel on the beach waterball that I literally just added to my Christmas list.

Magical Mer-Movies

When thinking of mermaids, for me there are more than a few from the screen that are nearly as iconic as Disney's animated princess. Some of my favorite finned film friends are:

Aquamarine from the film Aquamarine
In this family movie, based on the book of the same name by Alice Hoffman, two young girls make a wish that leads to a mermaid in their swimming pool. Aquamarine is the reason I so badly want a mermaid as a best friend to this day.

Emma, Cleo, and Rikki from H2O, Just Add Water
Three best friends from this 2006 Australian, family-friendly show suddenly become mermaids and of course from there hilarity ensues as they must try not to get wet while they also deal with the terrors of high school. Often funny, and always together, I love these girls because of their strong friendship.

Princess Mindy from The Spongebob Squarepants Movie
It's no surprise that the nautical nonsense of Spongebob lends itself to mythical marine creatures. Mindy, played by Scarlett Johansson, gets my pick as a favorite mermaid of the screen because of her good heart (and her adorable glasses!).

Madison from the movie Splash
If Spongebob is too family-friendly for you, this Tom Hanks classic, fish-out-of-water comedy delivers hilarious moment after hilarious moment. Fun fact, the name Madison took off as a first name in the US because of its use in this film with the mermaid naming herself after the famous avenue.

Merpeople of the Page

These mermaids from books, with picks fit for young children, middle schoolers, and adults, are some of my all-time favorites.

The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen was the inspiration for Disney's animated film. The original fairy tale, like many do, has a much more solemn ending. Common between both this and the animated film is the idea of making sacrifices for love. As a hopeless romantic, this tragic fairy tale will always have a special place in my heart.

How to Catch a Mermaid is one of the most popular mermaid titles out for kids right now because of its clever rhymes and enchanting artwork. The titular mermaid of this work is always one step ahead of the kids trying to capture her, making this a fun read for all as you wonder the whole time if they'll get her.

Coach Waterford from Mermaids Don't Run Track by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones, one of many books in the Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series, gets a place in this list because I always instantly think of her when thinking mermaids. Her fin pants and matching sneakers are a such a look. And believe it or not, the book never confirms either way if she is, or is not, a mermaid so she counts!

I have to give shoutout to the aquatic faeries of the Spiderwick chronicles, who pretty much show up to traumatize a surfer and cause problems. Merfolk are a mischievous folk, after all, so I have no problem with them being a little bit naughty, and the amazing artwork of the Field Guide just seals the deal as them being some of the best mermaids to hit the page.

Getting into the more grown-up selections, Sarah J. Maas's Crescent City series introduces you to a few of the "mer," this universe's version of mermaids (there are also werewolves, and angels, and all sorts of things). None of the mer gets as much love from the fandom as the dreamy Prince Tharion. He is introduced in the first book, but really gets his chance to shine and show off his humor and charm in the second book, House of Sky and Breath.

Another favorite series for those enchanted by the mystery of the sea comes to us from Nora Roberts. Her Guardians Trilogy focuses on a group of regular humans who find themselves drawn to the same beach via confusing visions and prophecies. I can't say anything further without spoiling so I won't, except urging you to read it, read it now!

Who are your favorite mermaids? This list was very much my opinion, and I could use some more reading material. Let me know in the comments some of your favorite mermaid tales!

Read more by Amanda Cleveland

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