A small, bespectacled pufferfish must face the everyday reality of being a small fish in a world full of big fishes.
Readers first see the pufferfish swimming alone, totally unaware of a giant eye looking in its direction. As the fish makes its way along, it passes in front of two giant eyes; these, it notices. “Gulp.” The fish glances back in fear. Thinking it's escaped unscathed, the fish breathes a sigh of relief just as a long tentacle sneaks up from behind. “Hello, little guy! Let’s play… / Catch of the Day!” says a big octopus that’s just a bit too friendly. Allen wrings a lot of humor from the wickedly funny abuse the octopus inflicts on the pufferfish, inventing a series of bizarre scenarios that increase in absurdity. The hand-lettered text, meanwhile, twists and turns on the page according to the whims of the octopus. The book at times recalls Jon Klassen’s This Is Not My Hat (2012) in both subversive humor and minimalist aesthetic. Muted, vague strokes coil and curl around the yellow pufferfish and white octopus, conveying motion and contrasting against a plain backdrop that alternates between sea green and light blue. Eventually, the octopus wonders if the “cute” fish tastes “cute” and pops it in its (anatomically incorrect) mouth. “Ohh! You taste adorabl….” Though knowing readers will predict what happens next, it nonetheless still packs a punch.
A clear victory for a pufferfish and, more importantly, readers. (Picture book. 3-7)