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THE BIRTHDAY FISH by Dan Yaccarino


by Dan Yaccarino & illustrated by Dan Yaccarino

Pub Date: June 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-8050-7493-7
Publisher: Henry Holt

In this deceptively simple tale, a child obsessed with ponies doesn’t get one for her birthday. Cynthia is so sure that she’s already picked out a name—Marigold—and such is her disappointment when her gift turns out to be a goldfish, that she heads straight for the drain with it. But when the fish promises to grant her wish if she takes it to the lake instead, she plunks the bowl into her mini-stroller and trots off. Yaccarino creates a retro look for the accompanying art, dressing Cynthia in a school uniform–style blouse, vest and tartan skirt, and placing her in a wide suburban setting of geometrically exact houses and trees. The lake turns out to be a long way off, under a hot sun, over a bumpy sidewalk, past an intent cat and other hazards; the two arrive just in time to admire the sunset. “ ‘It’s late,’ said the goldfish. ‘Yes it is,’ replied Cynthia. ‘Let’s go home now, Marigold.’ ” The bonding falls between the lines, but thoughtful readers and listeners will understand how it happens, and really perceptive ones may even see it coming. (Picture book. 6-8)