A big cod’s struggles with bullying come to an end when he saves the school from a shark.
Bertie is one huge cod, towering over every other student in his school. Because they fear him and his strength, they side with Maxwell in his bullying of Bertie, chiming in when Maxwell asks, “Hey guys, what’s this beast’s name again?” “CODZILLA!” Bertie might be a bit clumsy, but he is a gentle cod who loves to read about sharks in the school library. But even mild-mannered fish can get pushed too far, and when running, hiding, and playing dead don’t alleviate the bullying, Bertie takes care of Maxwell by eating him…and all the witnesses. Their racket drives Bertie to sneeze them out again, but the bullying gets worse until the day Bertie turns hero by putting all his shark knowledge (and his huge stomach capacity) to good use. While it’s refreshing to see the reversal of size stereotypes, with a small bully and a large target, it’s unfortunate that the bullying only ends when Bertie becomes useful. The fish in Chapman’s Photoshop illustrations are shaped like bullets with various colored and shaped fins and remarkably expressive, rather goofy faces. All “walk” upright on their fins, and the atmosphere is extremely dry despite the presence of watery plants and the occasional bubble. Don’t miss the titles of the library books.
This fish tail is amusing, though it won’t help kids who find themselves in Bertie’s shoes. (Picture book. 4-8)