In her very brief debut picture book, Maddock tells a story of two siblings who live by a lake, and their opportunity to help wildlife while learning an important lesson.
Many different kinds of creatures inhabit the lake near Beth and Paul’s house, including carp, which the two children find ugly. One spring, a small pond forms in a swampy area by a willow tree—an area that the children have avoided out of fear of getting stuck in the mud, and the fact that there might be creepy carp there. As the weather begins to warm up, the water in the little pond begins to grow shallow, and eventually it’s cut off from the rest of the lake. Beth and Paul discover a small group of carp caught in the pond, and even though they’re a little afraid of the fish, their father helps them hatch a plan to release them back into the lake. Soon, the rescue mission becomes a neighborhoodwide endeavor. Afterward, the children have a new appreciation for the creatures they once disliked. Maddock aptly closes the tale by quoting William Henry Monk’s hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” The story is an allegory based on a true story, and as such, it’s simple and straightforward; for example, the illustration of Beth and Paul’s father appears similar to Western depictions of Jesus Christ, and he reminds the kids that even if they find the carp disgusting, they’re still God’s creatures and therefore deserving of respect. The involvement of the entire neighborhood in the rescue mission evokes the Christian focus on community and helping the less fortunate. The digital illustrations by Ouano are bright and cheerful, and his interpretations of wildlife are particularly well-rendered. Although the sweet story’s competent prose makes it easy to follow, it’s a bit short, and the action moves along at a somewhat disjointed pace. Overall, this book is appropriate for very young children who enjoy the outdoors and whose parents would like to enhance their moral teachings.
A simple Christian kids’ book with a message about respecting all life.