Children will get a chance to meet two “mermaids” during a book signing that will take place this Saturday, Aug. 12, at noon in Bethany Beach.
Tidepool Toys & Games, located on the boardwalk in Bethany and in Fenwick Island, has been hosting a number of local artists and authors so that children and their families can interact with them and get their books signed.
The authors hosted from in and around Sussex County have included picture-book author Michelle Meadows and will soon include Nancy Sakaduski of Lewes.
“We like to spotlight our local authors and entertainers in our toy store,” said owner Lori Smyth.
Sakaduski is the author of several books designed to appeal to audiences from children to adults, but for her signing at Tidepool Toys & Games, she will be featuring her latest children’s book, “The Mermaid in Rehoboth Bay.”
Sakaduski said this was her first time ever writing about mermaids, and the idea came to her when she met the illustrator of the book, Marcella Hart, at the Hockessin Art & Book Fair. During the fair, Sakaduski said, a photograph of a mermaid mural on a little girl’s bedroom wall caught her eye while she was looking through Hart’s portfolio. She said the nautical subject was a great way to incorporate both powerful messages and essences of Sussex County’s flora and fauna to the storyline.
Sakaduski worked with Hart to include accurate depictions of Rehoboth Bay and Rehoboth Beach, and she said every animal drawn in the book can be found in the vicinity. Another component of accuracy was making the mermaid and little girl featured in the story as lifelike as possible. They hired a child model so that Hart would be able to create the realistic illustrations.
“We wanted both characters to be something that the reader — the young girls — can identify with,” Sakaduski said. She noted that a few boys come to the signings as fans of her book as well.
Smyth said that during book signings at the store, children gather around the author and listen to bits and pieces of the story being featured. They also have gotten the chance to ask the questions.
Sakaduski’s appearances have been mermaid-themed ever since she started promoting “The Mermaid in Rehoboth Bay.” She has been doing signings throughout and around Sussex County since the book was published, and as a part of her signings, Sakaduski has dressed up as a mermaid. For her appearance at Tidepool Toys & Games on Aug. 12, Smyth’s daughter will also come dressed as a mermaid.
Sakaduski said her favorite aspect of interacting with the children is when they ask her all sorts of questions regarding her outfit and identity.
“They ask me if I’m Ariel, and I say, no, I am Ariel’s mom,” she said.
Sakaduski said she enjoys reading the story to the children. It has also garnered her two awards, as “The Mermaid in Rehoboth Bay” won first-place recognition from the National Federation of Press Women and was also awarded honors by the Delaware Press Association.
While Sakaduski is signing her books during the event, a mermaid-related activity will also be available to children and their families. Smyth said the books will be sold with a 10 percent discount that day.
Interacting with all of the children was a goal that Sakaduski said brings her a lot of joy. She said she has encouraged children to come in costume and has seen little girls dressed as mermaids and little boys wearing shark- or fish-themed apparel. In order to break the shy kids out of their shells, she said, she brings snacks, such as Goldfish, to draw them in.
“I always bring a dish of ‘mermaid food,’” she noted.
Smyth said the book has been a hit at both of the Tidepool Toys & Games store locations and that she was looking forward to Sakaduski’s signing event this weekend. She said it will truly be a family event, with many takeaways, such as opportunities for people to take pictures with the mermaids, buy mermaid books and merchandise, and take their crafts home with them.
And while “The Mermaid in Rehoboth Bay” takes place in Rehoboth Beach, Smyth said its popularity has already reached south to both of her stores, in Bethany and in Fenwick.
“People think it’s a great gift to take home as a memory of the beach,” she said.