It’s Friday the 13th, the day of the school Kick the Ball Against the Wall championship, and Boom Broom just knows he’s going to win. Except, on this particular day, it seems the universe it out to get him. It’s not enough that his mother was stolen by a freak twister a year ago. Or that his father hasn’t come out of the attic since the accident. Or that his sister, Mertyle, has been coming up with increasingly inane (but creative) sicknesses to get out of school and stay home watching game shows. Or that the housekeeper his father hired, Halvor, is a Direct Descendant of Vikings and refuses to cook or eat anything that isn’t fish, rye bread or marmalade.
No — today, of all days, Boom has to kick an apple through the window of Mr. Johnson’s house, which leads to him being late to school, which leads to him missing the Kick the Ball Against the Wall championship, which leads to him loaning his best friend, Wing, $7 of the $10 Halvor gave Boom to buy dinner (fish, of course) so he could pay off a bet, which leads to him rummaging through the reject bucket at the docks, which leads to him bringing home the one thing that will change their lives: a merbaby.
To Catch a Mermaid is a whimsical story, with absurdities and magic flowing freely throughout. Selfors has a way with descriptions, portraying with the simplest of words situations that are amusing in their absurdity. Boom and Mertyle are delightfully weird, and their adventures with the merbaby are disarmingly charming. That said, there’s a dark streak running through the book: it’s not a perfect world where everything is pink, shiny and happy. No, the neighbors across the street are disturbingly snotty and bossy, and Boom sees more things go wrong in a short two-day span than most people see in a lifetime. Yet, all that goes wrong for Boom in the weekend works most satisfactorily toward the lovely, happy conclusion.
In short: an absolutely delightful little book.