The pout-pout fish finds more to pout about.
In the eighth book in this popular series (not counting holiday miniadventures, board books, and novelty tie-ins), Mr. Fish and his friends discover “a big…BIG…MESS” in the ocean. In rhyming stanzas, with an occasional refrain, Diesen tells of the dismal discovery, research, discussion, and consensus: “The problem is… / Us!!!” The friends agree to work together to solve it, inviting readers’ help. Hanna illustrates with his familiar cartoonish characters, letting his imagination fly with examples of what surrounds these ocean-dwellers as they journey to the trash mountain: straws, cups, and plastic bags; bits of plastic toys; bottles and cans; candy wrappers and pizza boxes; old electronics; broken sandals; tires; an abandoned ukelele; an Earth Day balloon (oh, the irony); six-pack rings; and more. Mr. Seahorse’s vehicle belches smelly exhaust; a fish behind him wears a gas mask. Two final spreads show the cooperative cleanup. Mr. Seahorse now rides a bicycle. Humorous details will keep readers coming back to the pictures again and again, but it’s not all laughs: There is an entangled turtle, a fish strangling in a six-pack ring, and more than one skeleton. An older audience will certainly get the point; young listeners may need a reminder from the adult reader to understand who really consumes fast food and leaves litter behind—the real “us” that threaten actual marine life. A final page offers suggestions for learning more, taking action, and sharing.
Well-meant but distressing. (Picture book. 3-6)