A young sailor’s love for a mermaid is preserved in the ring she fashions for him from a strand of her hair, but he finds himself in a dire dilemma when he remembers he has promised a lock of his sweetheart’s hair to a mysterious old woman.
Grade 1-4– A young man fulfills his dreams of finding a mermaid, falls in love with her, but almost loses her because of his promise to old Gertie that he will give her a lock of his true love’s hair. This romantic story, which will mostly appeal to elementary-age children familiar with traditional folktales, is simply told. Readers may miss an important element of the story, however, if they skip the poorly placed illustration and text that preceed the title page. This page explains the reason for Gertie’s wanting the lock of hair. The illustrations are lino cuts, and Haley achieves some marvelous effects with this demanding medium; however, she sometimes obscures the bold lines and shapes with busy backgrounds and patterns. Also, she depicts the mermaid with a bifurcated tail that looks like two limp, rubbery legs. The device is not successful, and detracts from the believability of the image. While Sea Tale is not a must purchase, large libraries may want to include it because of the illustrations. School Library Journal