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ARLENE SARDINE by Chris Raschka


by Chris Raschka & illustrated by Chris Raschka

Age Range: 3 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-531-30111-7
Publisher: Orchard

Raschka (Simple Gifts, p. 273, etc.) has a way of continually reinventing the picture-book form; here, in his signature splashy watercolors and brash calligraphy, he tells the story of how Arlene, a little fish who wants to be a sardine, achieves her career goal. Along the way, readers learn how brislings are caught, killed, pickled, and canned; they also discover the different ways sardines are laid out in their containers. These facts are presented in an insouciant rhythm fully invested with Arlene’s fishy personality: “A little fish/packed in oil,/in a can,/is a/sardine./Arlene/was a sardine./A sardine/is what Arlene/was.” The book’s jacket, not incidentally, is painted to look like, read as, and “open” like the tin lid of a sardine can; the entire book bristles with nonchalance, but makes its points with panache. (Picture book. 3-8)