Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Picture Book Reviews

In THE ONLY FISH IN THE SEA by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Matthew Cordell, Amy Scott gets a goldfish for her birthday and announces to everyone that “goldfish are boring!”  She marches to the dock and drops the fish into the sea. Sherman worries about the fish being all alone and floating away. Sadie is apprehensive about the dangers that lie ahead in open waters.

Sadie names the fish Ellsworth and with Sherman's help, she plans to rescue the fish. They secure a boat, fishing gear, balloons, a bucket of paint, headwear and with a crew of monkeys, set sail. They encounter rough waters and sea creatures. They wait patiently and find Ellsworth drifting in troubled waters. They bring Ellsworth home and give him a nice place to live, and friends who will feed him and keep him company. But Amy Scott will not be as lucky.

Everyone will delight in the pen and ink illustrations of the monkeys and their antics. Readers will enjoy following the monkeys through the story as much as they'll root for the other characters.

I particularly like that Sadie names the fish, Ellsworth, it humanizes the fish, it has value and should be saved. Sherman and Sadie empathizing and showing concern for the fish is powerful. Later, Sherman sees Amy and says hi to her, even though she threw away the fish, he acknowledges her, and asks about her in the closing scene.

The take-away is about bullying and knowing that that you can count on your friends to help you.

I recently read the latest Duck and Goose picture book: Duck & Goose Honk! Quack! Boo!! By Tad Hills. In the opening scene, Duck and Goose discuss what they will be for Halloween. Their friend, Thistle, tells them there will be a swamp monster and to be cautious! Goose is afraid and has difficulty sleeping, while Duck admits he doesn’t like monsters, he still closes his eyes and sleeps.  

The next day, Duck and Goose dress as a scary ghost and a brave superhero, respectively. During trick-or-treating, a friendly daisy tells Duck and Goose a swamp monster is looking for them. When they see the monster, they run and hide in fear, but the swamp monster finds them. Together, Duck and Goose are scary and brave and save themselves. After discovering who the swamp monster is, all three continue trick-or-treating. In the closing scene, Duck and Goose share their candy and tell Halloween stories about a superhero, a ghost and a swamp monster. 

Children and adults will enjoy the lively illustrations, the amusing banter between Duck and Goose and how they solve their problem.

In this story, we learn that on Halloween we can be whatever we want to be or wish we were.


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