In praise of mer-cats

My niece Juliet (8) is great at designing mythical beasts. Here is her mer-cat.

Mercat, by Juliet Hale (2022)

It was inspired by something she saw on a friend’s bookmark. I liked how neatly she drew it (it’s a tiny image, about the size of a postage stamp), and the balance between the gold of the cat, the blue of the background (the sea!) and the red of some of the creature’s scales.

We had a conversation about the components of the mercat, and Juliet explained that it has the horn of a unicorn, the upper half of a cat, and the tail of a mermaid. The next time I visited, she had shown how this would work!

Unicorn + cat + mermaid = mercat! (by Juliet Hale, 2022)

Juliet draws a lot, and has turned her family’s dining table into a craft zone, where she comes up with creations like this while watching animations on her ipad. She picks up ideas from craft shows on youtube, from conversations with her friends, and school.

Unicorns and mermaids are very popular in stories for girls at the moment. Juliet has recently been reading Camping with Unicorns, from Dana Simpson’s popular Phoebe and her Unicorn series. She’s at the age to enjoy chapter books that mix text and cartoons, and is embarking on series fiction such as the Babysitters Club stories. She also enjoys toys, such as LEGO friends and the Sylvanian Families sets, and designs and decorates their living spaces. We have started a knitting project, too: a scarf for her toy bear. In her play choices, we can see a creative girl who is au fait with culture in mutiple formats–in word, image, on the page, on the screen, and in toy form.

Who knows what Juliet will do next: whatever it is, it will be carefully thought out and beautifully designed. I can’t wait to see it.

–Elizabeth Hale

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