Henri Matisse’s massive and joyous cutout work, The Parakeet and the Mermaid, is the basis for this delightful children’s book about the unlikely friendship between a mermaid and a parakeet. Henri Matisse once said, “What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter.” It’s no wonder his works are loved by children everywhere. In this charming book, Vanessa Hié and Veronique Massenot create a world based on Matisse’s vision, in which a mermaid is thrust out of the sea by a massive storm. Stranded in a tree, not knowing how she can return to her home without legs, she meets a parakeet who is so moved by her plight he finds a way to help her. Vanessa Hié’s gorgeous, deeply hued illustrations incorporate the shapes and colors found in Matisse’s original masterpiece, which is reproduced at the end of the book. Massenot’s simple but profound story of bravery and friendship is a delight to read. Together, the words and pictures tell a timeless story, while introducing young people to Matisse’s artistry.