Cover of The Fish Prince by Jane Yolen and Shulamith Oppenheim

Fish Prince, The

This book of mermen stories may have the longest and most difficult gestation of any book I have ever done. It began almost 30 years ago when my friend Shulamith Oppenheim and I wrote a proposal for a children’s book called MERMEN: An Unnatural History. It was bought by Ann Beneduce at Crowell, we wrote the book, and before we had delivered it, she left and the new editor didn’t like the book. We kept the advance but had no publisher. Over the next 25 years, we sold the book two other times–once to a comics book company about to start a hardcover line. They canceled the line (and our book) before starting. The other time to a small Canadian publisher who gave us a contract, money, and then the two publishers decamped to Czechoslovakia. At last we discovered the wonderful small Interlink that has a fine folklore line. They loved the idea of the book, wanted it doubled in size and made into an adult book. We did that in about a year’s time, and now–at last–retitled, enlarged, and thoroughly rewritten, THE FISH PRINCE AND OTHER STORIES is out. Divided into geographic groupings, with folkloric essays surrounding the stories, the book retells about 25 stories and talks about every merman or mer god we could discover. The Interlink publisher likes the book well enough, he wants to reprint one of the stories in a children’s picture book.

What reviewers have said:

  • “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.” — Booklist
  • “This is a fine book for a study of interesting folktales or the merman archetype. . . Recommended.” — The Book Report
  • “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!” — Midwest Book Review
  • “A delightful read for the tales alone, this small work also gives background in the psychology and history of the myths themselves. Seamless writing carries the reader along on an entertaining adventure of the sea and Mermen. Don’t expect any quarter page footnotes, but this book was solidly researched. A section at the back gives a broad overview of the various Gods of the sea and an excellent bibliography of general and geographically divided sources. This is an excellent book for any student of mythology or folklore.”-Greenman Review

See the Rambles review.

Available in paperback.