Cobble Hill

Author Melanie Hope Greenberg to read ‘Mermaids on Parade’ at Barnes & Noble Cobble Hill

Celebrates Brooklyn’s iconic Coney Island Mermaid Parade

June 8, 2023 Mary Frost
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COBBLE HILL — Brooklyn’s essential guide to the legendary Coney Island Mermaid Parade is a children’s book.

The Mermaid Parade marks the start of summer, which officially begins after King Neptune and Queen Mermaid throw fruit off Steeplechase Pier as an offering to the gods of the sea.

The free-spirited spectacle, with its fantastically-costumed mer-creatures, dancers and bands in nautical get-ups (who needs clothes under the waves?) is hard to put into words.

Author/illustrator Melanie Hope Greenberg will be reading her classic children’s book, “Mermaids on Parade” at Barnes & Noble Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, on June 10.

Illustrator Melanie Hope Greenberg, however, has captured the mood of the zany Brooklyn revel in her picture book, “Mermaids on Parade.” The book tells the story from the point of view of a little girl who dresses up as a “Shy Mermaid Coming Out of Her Shell,” marches in the parade through Coney Island’s familiar scenery, and then wins the Best Little Mermaid award. The pages of the book overflow with colorful illustrations of the diverse sea creatures she marches alongside, and neighborhoods she marches through.

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“Today is the day when mermaids, Neptunes and other legendary sea creatures leave their oceans to walk on land,” the girl explains.

Greenberg’s paintings nail Coney Island’s familiar shops and arcades, Astroland, Nathan’s hot dog stand, the F train. There’s even an accurate map of the parade route and simple instructions on how to make a mermaid tail in the back.

Since first published in 2008, “Mermaids on Parade” has become a children’s classic, making the list of Brooklyn Public Library’s “125 Essential Brooklyn Books.” (Ranked right up there with Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” Jonathan Letham’s “Motherless Brooklyn,” and David McCullough’s “The Great Bridge.”)

Author/illustrator Melanie Hope Greenberg. Photo courtesy of David Beyda

Catch the live author reading this Saturday

Greenberg, a long-time resident of Brooklyn Heights, will appear at Barnes & Noble Cobble Hill (194 Atlantic Ave.) for a special live reading and book signing on Saturday, June 10 at 11 a.m., one week before this year’s parade.

“I was inspired to write ‘Mermaids on Parade’ based on a real-life experience,” she told the Brooklyn Eagle. “In 2005, I was invited to march in the Coney Island Mermaid Parade with a performance troupe from DUMBO called the Superfine Dinettes. The idea of a mermaid parade also sounded like fun to write about with its childlike themes of amusement parks, cosplay and glitter.”

We asked Greenberg what parents might want to know about “Mermaids on Parade.”

“‘Mermaids on Parade’ is about a child’s-eye view of joy from a first time, wondrous experience. I include a tail-making activity I learned from the Dinettes, as well as an author’s note with the parade’s historical background I learned from researching Coney Island’s history for the book. Parents might want to point out places of interest they will recognize in the book such as the Parachute Jump, The Cyclone Roller Coaster, and the Wonder Wheel. The story remains ever fresh.

Performer Darrell Thorne goes all out at last year’s Coney Island Mermaid Parade. Photo by Beth Eisgrau-Heller/Brooklyn Eagle

“I’ve heard from so many parents, librarians, and teachers throughout the years that they never weed my book from their shelves,” she said, and she is thrilled about her book being chosen as one of BPL’s 125 Essential Brooklyn Books.

“My book was alongside Patti Smith and Walt Whitman. I am still on Cloud 9 from this honor!” she said.

Greenberg loves it that new waves of families are constantly discovering the magical book.

“Being an author-illustrator of a picture book means meeting new parents all the time and introducing myself and my books to them.”

A mermaid joins a spectator for a selfie at last year’s Coney Island Mermaid Parade. Photo by Beth Eisgrau-Heller/Brooklyn Eagle

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