A new children’s book based on the old Cornish folktale The Mermaid of Zennor is being published. 

Author Emily Harper has written The Miniature Mermaid of Zennor, which intricately weaves themes of family values, the importance of curiosity and imagination, cultural representation, and environmental protection. 

The story is about Isla who has a huge imagination and loves listening to her grandad's amazing stories of his childhood in wild and rugged Cornwall.

But when Isla's dad goes missing on a diving trip in Mexico, Isla's world is turned upside down.

How did he vanish? Will her family ever see him again? Grieving his loss, and needing a change of scenery from busy London, Isla, her mum, and her grandad decide to move back to Cornwall, to the family farmhouse in the tiny village of Zennor.

Isla misses her dad, and is not used to country life, but when she discovers a magical secret locked away in an old book, Isla’s life takes another unexpected turn, as she discovers that the sea holds more adventures than she could ever have imagined.  

Emily said: “Once I started working as a primary school teacher, I realised that exposure to traditional tales and folklore is very limited, despite being on the curriculum throughout primary key stages.

"Most of the stories that fill this curriculum requirement are fairy stories and Greek myths, and whilst both of these genres hold value, I wanted to encourage my students to engage with stories that are a little more endemic to Britain; something which may spark an interest in the legacy of our own shores.

"There are magical tales which are just as exciting as Greek mythology from our own past, but because these tales are marginalised and often undervalued in the reading curriculum, the art of storytelling is often lost.  

“I was inspired by Cressida Cowell, the author of How to Train Your Dragon, who based her tale on folklore from the Vikings in Scotland.

"Books like hers are few and far between, so are a gem when teaching history through literature in primary schools, and because the curriculum approach/delivery is changing, the need for more books like hers is greater than ever.

"This is why I chose to create The Miniature Mermaid of Zennor – to engage young readers in one of Cornwall’s most well-known tales, and hopefully to allow them to explore and expand their horizons without leaving their classroom or home.

"In addition to creating a narrative, I have also included a traditional Cornish song, poem and recipe in The Miniature Mermaid of Zennor, as I wanted to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach and explore other ways of teaching children about Cornish history.

“The contrast of cultures in the many places I have travelled to during my life is something that has always inspired me, and I like to learn the local myths and legends and discover off-the-beaten-path experiences.

"I have researched mermaid tales from across the world and these will go on to inform future books in the Miniature Mermaids series.

"Through my writing, I hope to expose children to different cultures, continents, wildlife and landscapes all from the comfort of the book in their hands and their wild imaginations.”  

Published by Cranthorpe Millner Publishers, The Miniature Mermaid of Zennor is available in paperback and Kindle format.